*Update - In the interest of transparency here is a link to the article in question "Boy Scouts' 'perversion files' include 3 Erie County Cases"
As a Penn State Alum and an Eagle Scout, I am now batting 2 for 3 in national sexual abuse scandals. The recent scandal with the Boy Scouts of America so-called 'perversion files' has hit now hit much closer to home with an article posted in the Erie Times-News this past Sunday. I came here to the BSD family because I thought we could be somewhat understanding, considering our recent past as Penn State fans.
My Grandfather was a former Scout Executive in Erie, PA during the 1970s. He worked his way up the chain of command of Scouting until his retirement. The article in question provides quotes from letters written by him to the executive board of scouting, that suggest he played a role in allowing an alleged assailant to continue his involvement in scouting.
My family of course took umbrage to the article, as this was the first time we had heard any such thing about the letters or my grandfather's involvement in these cases. At 84 he currently suffers from Alzheimer's and is unable to defend himself or provide answers to any questions we may have about the letters.
My initial response to the article is below
To Mr. Ed Palattella and the Editors of the Erie Times-News,
I want to first say that I am appalled at the prevalence of child abuse in all arenas of the world and wish that there was some way to end the epidemic that continues to be a societal issue. One not relegated to one group or person. I am writing to you seeking an apology regarding your recent article. My grandfather is Paul R. Davis Jr. a man that I have grown up admiring. A human being no longer able to defend himself against the harmful slander of his family name. Sadly he no longer knows me because of the debilitating disease that has robbed him of his thoughts, memories, and past. He does appear to present himself as any easy target for scorn, regarding a letter written so far in the past.
Many people have been hung at the gallows of public opinion without the benefit of truth and final justice. While this is a country built on stances such as, "innocent until proven guilty," it is also one of "freedom of the press" and "freedom of speech." This does not however absolve you from doing your due diligence prior to writing an article with such sensationalism. One written with what appears to be a flailing attempt to drive page views and feed newspaper sales.
Were other members of the Troop Leadership sought to provide insight in the case regarding Michael Nonclerg? Were former colleagues of Mr. Davis contacted? This on its face appears to be lazy journalism, which in this age of 24/7 news coverage is all too often the case. It is much easier to take pot shots at a man who has been robbed of his faculties and another that has long since passed away. Does dragging my family's name through mud or throwing shovels of dirt on a young man's grave serve to correct the wrongs of the past? Does it bring closure to the alleged victims of Mr. Nonclerg? This is the same man that was hired as an English teacher at West Allegheny MIddle School, yet they have seemed to escape the same scrutiny that has been thrust upon my grandfather..
Child sexual abuse is a problem that is not going away. I do believe the only way to make progress against those that commit these heinous crimes against youth is to expose how others have slipped through the cracks. That objective was not completed with your article and it did not serve the greater good to smear the name's of people that are still part of that great community. My grandfather served the Boy Scouts of America dutifully until his retirement. He helped guide two sons and a grandson to the rank of Eagle Scout. I do wish we knew why he wrote the second letter asking that the issue be dropped regarding Mr. Nonclerg. It is a question that will remain unanswered. It was a situation with no criminal charges or further proof of abuse at the hands of Mr. Nonclerg. Why was my grandfather your chosen target? What have you done to find out how he was pressured to make the situation go away? What evidence has been found that he was the sole decision maker in this case?
I believe Paul R. Davis Jr's records will speak for themselves and I hope that in the future when his obituary and the one of my father Paul R. Davis III is written that the smudge you have placed on their name will have long since faded. I hope that their deeds serving our family, the scouts, community, and their church will outshine any article that is written in an attempt to fan embers in the long since cold ashes of your dying paper.
Respectfully, Seth Davis
The author's response
Dear Mr. Davis:
Thanks for taking the time to write. As I see you want this as a letter to the editor, I will make sure it gets to the person who handles letters.
Sincerely, Ed Palattella
Dear Mr. Ed Palattella,
As the author of the article in question, I do believe you were the correct and primary contact regarding my previous email.
Thank you for passing along my letter, but the additional subjects were already included on the original correspondence. Your deft maneuvering appears to be a good way to ignore my original statements and pass them up the chain of command.
The final response from the author
Dear Mr. Davis:
You wrote a letter to the editor, in which the reader is free to say his or her piece. I know that you sent it to the letters editor originally, but wanted to make sure the editor was aware of it. I did not ignore your original statements.
I chose not to debate you about them. I stand by my story, and the information contained in it, including original letters. I understand you disagree with the story, which is certainly your prerogative.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to write.
Sincerely, Ed Palattella
I was then instructed by the letters to the editor that I had to shave down my initial message to 250 words. For my family that still lives and works in the Erie area, this issue has blindsided them. We question the intent and purpose of the article.
If any of you may live in the Erie area, I ask that you reconsider supporting this newspaper. I know that is a difficult thing because it is the only printed paper in the area. My parents have been subscribers for a number of years. They are surely rethinking that subscription. Although they only way for them to turn is the Meadville Tribune, which is owned by the Erie Time-News. There is no true source of local news that they can trust, which is quite a poor reflection of today's news & print companies.
I know this was quite off topic, and relatively unrelated to Penn State or sport other than IT, but I hope this is a forum that can understand a little of my families anger.