The mother of a Boy Scout molested at a 2007 Christmas-tree lot testified Wednesday that she “felt numb” when her 13-year-old son told her about it. “I was in shock.” She said she wondered “how that could have happened.”
She told a Santa Barbara Superior Court jury that Scout volunteer Al Stein, 29 at the time, had asked her to take a tree to one end of the lot, then told her son to water a tree at the other end. The boy, now a 20-year-old City College student, testified earlier that the 400-pound Stein shoved him against a tree, took down his pants and underwear, and fondled his penis.
After the boy told her what had happened several days later, she said she immediately followed the approved scouting procedure and reported the incident to local scout executive David Tate in a “courtesy” call before notifying law enforcement.
Although Tate was a scout official mandated under California law to report child abuse, the mother testified he told her that it was “not necessary” for her to notify authorities. We can do our own investigation, he said. “I have a lot of experience investigating child abuse,” she said Tate told her.
After she insisted on notifying authorities, Tate told her to go ahead. She said a Sheriff’s deputy she spoke to told her to call Tate back and warn him not to talk to Stein or go back to the lot because a “sting” investigation would take place there. But when she called Tate back and relayed the instructions aimed at not alerting Stein, Tate insisted on going to the lot. “I have to,” he told her.
The mother, an attorney, disputed many of Tate’s claims, including his written report that it was an anonymous call. “I told him who I was,” she said. A deputy later complained that by going to the lot, Tate had alerted Stein and “ruined” the investigation.
A week or so after the incident, the mother said, she was surprised when a Child Protective Services agent arrived at her house, following up on a complaint by Tate. Tate testified that he didn’t recall the mother asking him not to go to the tree lot that night.
But he said he made the CPS complaint against the family because they had brought the scout back to the lot. Sheriff’s officers had asked them to bring the boy down for the sting, although he didn’t want to go back. Tate said he felt that would amount to further abuse. He denied that his complaint was in retaliation for their reporting the molestation to authorities.
In his criminal case, Stein pleaded no contest to child endangerment, violated probation when child porn was found on his cell phone, and served a prison term. At last report, he was in the Salinas area.
Editor’s Note: Out of respect for the victim — who was a minor at the time of the incident — and his mother, The Independent has chosen not to publish their identities.