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Boy Scouts leader faces child porn charge
www.chinaview.cn 2005-03-30 15:03:57

    BEIJING, March. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The longtime program director of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and chairman of its Youth Protection Task Force has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography, the United States attorney's office in Fort Worth said Tuesday. 

    Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, who as program director coordinated scouting programs with schools and churches, was accused of receiving images over the Internet in February of children engaging in oral sex, intercourse and other sexually explicit conduct.

    "We're shocked and dismayed to learn of this," said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts, based in the Dallas suburb of Irving. "Smith was employed by the Boy Scouts for 39 years and we had no indication of prior criminal activity."

    Mr. Smith also responded on behalf of the Boy Scouts in September 2004 when a lawyer and onetime Eagle Scout, Bruce D. Collins, wrote a letter taking issue with the Boy Scouts' dismissal of an assistant scoutmaster, James Dale, because he was gay. The case reached the Supreme Court and established the Boy Scouts' right to bar gays under the organization's own First Amendment right of expressive association.

    The BSA has stirred controversy and legal battles over its anti-gay membership policy. In 1990, the BSA expelled James Dale, an openly gay Eagle Scout. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled the BSA's ouster of Dale violated the state's anti-discrimination law, but in 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling by a 5-4 vote.

    Last year, Mr. Smith was honored by the Boy Scouts with a Distinguished Service Award. His nomination read in part, "His visionary support to the National OA Committee has allowed our Order to move to new levels."

    Smith, reached Tuesday at his home in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, referred all questions to his attorney, Jack Strickland.

    "I've got to tell you, this is a good man, and I would hate to see the entirety of his life and the good things he's done defined by one incident," said Strickland.

    Smith would not comment about the charges against him when news organizations contacted him by phone at his home.

    He was expected to appear in federal court Wednesday.

    (Agencies)

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