Jim Frenette Sr. was an assistant scoutmaster in Tupper Lake from the time he got out of the Army until 1960, when he began teaching. The following year, 1961, the man under whom he had served was placed in the Boy Scouts' national, confidential register sometimes called the "perversion files."
The newly released papers say the concern over the man was alleged homosexual activity and a criminal record. Frenette said he never heard of any accusation like that, against this man or anyone else involved in Tupper Lake Scouting.
"I never saw anything that would suggest that, and I worked with him for four or five years," Frenette said. "Sometimes you get a whisper from one of the kids, you know, and I never heard any of that."
The Enterprise is not naming the scoutmaster for several reasons: He is deceased, the Boy Scouts' records contain no allegation of wrongdoing in his role in Scouting, and while a criminal history is mentioned, there's no record of what it might have been.
The scoutmaster's file contains the following documents:
A letter from a Saranac Lake scout executive to the BSA's national director of registration in New Jersey, asking that the Tupper Lake scoutmaster's name be placed in the "Confidential File." The local executive wrote that another Scouting official had notified him - and state police had notified that official - of the Tupper Lake scoutmaster's "homosexual activities."
A return letter asking for more information, including as much criminal documentation as police are willing to share, and sending a blank "confidential record sheet" to be filled out for the scoutmaster in question
The filled-out form
A letter from the state police Troop B commander to the Saranac Lake Scouting executive, mentioning that he was attaching the man in question's criminal record. The criminal record itself is not among the file's publicly available documents.
Nearly 200 boys were enrolled in the Tupper Lake Boy Scout troop in July 1961, according to a news brief in the Tupper Lake Free Press. The troop "died out for a while" after that, Frenette said, but "I think we had a strong Scouting program. ... There were some terrific people who came out of that."
While the Tupper Lake file contains no evidence that scouts were abused, the national files do contain tales of boys being molested in other parts of the country, and of scout leaders, police and other local authorities collaborating to keep it out of the public eye to preserve Scouting's good name.
Frenette compared the BSA's situation to what the Roman Catholic Church has faced over the last decade, during which it was revealed that in Catholic dioceses all over the U.S., priests accused of sexually abusing children were moved around quietly, without being reported to police. In turn, some of these priests became serial abusers in one parish after another.
"It's a little bit like the church, where they covered it up for the good of the church," Frenette said.
The opening of the confidential files "doesn't do Scouting any good," Frenette said. "The only good thing about it coming out is that people will take a closer look at it, much like the church did. They realize they were wrong to sweep it under the rug, and they'll do things differently going forward."