Troop leader was banned from scouts before sex abuse charges

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – A former Yorktown Boy Scouts troop leader charged with inappropriately touching two teenage boys in recent years was banned from participating in the organization several decades ago, according to a spokeswoman.

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said 56-year-old Thomas Seifert is facing 10 counts of felony child sexual abuse while in a custodial role. He was previously charged with four counts of indecent liberties with a child by a person in custodial or supervisory relationship.

The charges stem from incidents that reportedly happened over the course of four to five years and involved two victims. Deputies said the incidents happened at Seifert’s home as well as the Edgehill Pool, where he volunteered and managed the snack bar for the last five years.

The Boy Scouts put Seifert on a list, banning him from the organization in 1988, after a report of abuse, a spokeswoman from the Boy Scouts of America said. He continued scouting years later because of inconsistencies in the spelling of his name, she said. York County Supervisor Don Wiggins said it appears there was a breakdown in the system.

“I can’t imagine how this slipped through, how this slipped through the wire here,” he said. “It might have been used as a reason, but it shouldn’t have been a reason.”

A letter dated May 24, 1988, from the Director of Registration Service to a Scout Executive in Alaska, where Seifert lived, said, “There has been some concern about him and his relationship to youth members in Okinawa. Apparently there were some sexual activities in which he engaged related to youth members.”

Another 1988 letter from the same person was supposed to end Seifert’s time as a leader with the Boy Scouts. The director wrote: “I am going to set up a confidential file and refuse registration, should he attempt it anywhere in the country.”

“No parent would expect something like this to happen to one of their children by a Boy Scout representative, and this is what hurts me so much, we have them come to the Board of Supervisors just about every meeting,” Wiggins said. “They get badges for attending government functions and finding out about how government actually operates. These are tremendous boys, and I’ll tell you, they go on to be the backbone of our community,” he said.

Sheriff J.D. Danny Diggs called Seifert a serial offender: “Unfortunately, this is really typical pedophile behavior. When people have this kind of proclivity for certain types of sexual activity, they target victims in a specific age range. This is fairly recent stuff, enough that memories haven’t faded, specific incidences that are in the victims’ memory that allowed us to be able to actually place charges.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Seifert has been around numerous juveniles through his affiliation with several organizations, and he has also served as an Assistant Troop Leader with the Boy Scouts for several years.

Court documents show Seifert’s wife alerted investigators about concerns her husband was molesting children. The paperwork said Seifert talked to boys online and that the communication with them was “consistent with a predator who is grooming his victims.” The paperwork said Seifert also gave massages to victims, as a kind of reward for earning merit badges.

“While he may have used the Boy Scouts to cultivate relationships, nothing happened that we are aware of at any kind of Boy Scout activity, so he would use that relationship, then lure them to his house under some kind of pretext,” Diggs said.

According to a spokesman from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Seifert has been working as an intelligence analyst for the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency. He has active duty experience in the Air Force. The Air Force is cooperating with local law enforcement officials investigating the case, the spokesman said.

Boy Scouts of America provided this statement to WAVY.com:

Following a report of abuse, in 1988, the BSA removed this individual from Scouting and placed him on the BSA’s Ineligible Volunteer File list. We have subsequently learned that this individual was able to re-enroll in Scouting years later because of inconsistencies in his name. Upon learning of these allegations, we removed this individual from any further participation in the Scouting program.

There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.

These allegations remind us of the importance to be ever vigilant when it comes to the safety of our youth. Experts have found that the BSA’s system of Ineligible Volunteer Files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes that they play an important role in our comprehensive youth protection program. The BSA’s youth protection program includes education, chartered organization leader selection procedures, criminal background and other checks, barriers to abuse and prompt mandatory reporting. Because these allegations are currently under investigation, further questions should be directed to the York-Poquoson Sherriff’s Office.

For additional information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, please visit: http://www.scoutingnewsroom.org/key-topics/youth-protection/.

Seifert declined to talk to WAVY.com from the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, where he is incarcerated. A woman at the Edge Hill Pool, who identified herself as a community board member, told a WAVY News crew to leave the property and said the board had no comment on the case.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be pending, the Sheriff’s Office said. Seifert is expected back in court on July 17.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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