Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking the trust

This is hideous.

As a former Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, and Commissioner, I am repulsed by the idea that someone would use this position of trust to prey on youngsters entrusted to him by their parents.

I hope the jury does the right thing in this matter.

Send him away for the rest of his life.

Ex-Scout leader guilty of sex assault
By Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

A Bexar County jury Thursday found that former Assistant Scoutmaster James Hiatt spent two years molesting a member of his troop.

Jurors deliberated almost four hours before finding Hiatt guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and five counts of indecency with a child. They found him not guilty on one count of indecency.

Prosecutor Chris DeMartino described Hiatt as “grooming” the boy, beginning when he was a preteen, first fondling him and then intensifying the encounters over time.

“He chose the perfect victim,” DeMartino said in closing arguments. “He used the Scouts to pick a victim ... and for that, he should be condemned.”

He described a man who cultivated the trust of the boy's single mother so she began sending him to the home of Hiatt and his girlfriend for entire weekends.
“James Hiatt was the male role model that this boy didn't have,” DeMartino said.

The Express-News generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

The boy didn't tell anyone about the encounters until a neighbor of Hiatt's called police in November 2005 to report twice seeing the man and the boy in sexually suggestive situations.
Defense lawyer Rick Woods urged the jury to look at inconsistencies in the testimony and question the truthfulness of both the victim and the neighbor.

The first time, the neighbor said, she went to Hiatt's bedroom to retrieve a cell phone and found the door locked. She said she heard a moan, and then shortly afterward Hiatt opened the door, holding his pants closed, with his shirt up.

“Don't you think that if he heard a knock on the door, he would at least put down his shirt and zip up his pants? Use your common sense,” Woods said. The witness was “on a mission” to make trouble for Hiatt because of a disagreement they'd had, he said, while the boy was angry because Hiatt had given him a spanking that day.

DeMartino responded that the neighbor's life would have been simpler if she had just ignored what she had seen. And when the boy was questioned, he said, he was at first reluctant to say anything, but eventually talked about the encounters and testified at the trial.

“Let's not discount his courage in that. This is a boy who didn't ask to be here,” DeMartino said, “who didn't have any agenda except to be this man's friend.”

DeMartino asked that Hiatt be taken to jail overnight before the sentencing phase of his trial begins today, and 144th District Judge Catherine Torres-Stahl agreed.