Thursday, April 17, 2014
By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal
AUGUSTA - Alfred J. Conrad used his position as assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 647 of Hallowell to befriend and then sexually abuse a 12-year-old Scout over a period of months in 1977.
That's according to previously confidential court documents that were unsealed in response to a Kennebec Journal records request.
Conrad was among eight Scout leaders in Maine identified in October in thousands of newly disclosed files that documented allegations of sexual abuse by Scout volunteers nationwide.
Conrad, in an interview Thursday night, said his actions continue to haunt him today, almost 30 years after he was sentenced for gross sexual misconduct and unlawful sexual contact.
"I regretted what happened, and I kept away from youths after that," Conrad, now 67, said in a phone conversation from his home in Lawrence, Mass. "I keep to myself most of the time. I've tried to be an upstanding person."
Conrad would not comment further.
In response to the Kennebec Journal's request, Justice Michaela Murphy unsealed the pre-sentence investigation in the case of State v. Alfred J. Conrad.
Conrad, a former Augusta man, is a convicted sex offender who was barred by the Pine Tree Council of Boy Scouts in 1984 from ever being involved in Scouts again.
None of the previously sealed Maine court documents said anything about Conrad's Boy Scout connection, even though he was identified in the national document release.
The newly unsealed Boy Scout records confirm that Conrad met the boy through Scouts, and the sexual abuse began shortly afterward. Charges were brought when the boy came forward five years later.
Court records show Conrad pleaded guilty to gross sexual misconduct and unlawful sexual contact that occurred in May and June 1977 in Manchester. He was sentenced on April 23, 1983, to one year at the Maine State Prison, then in Thomaston.
The effects of the sexual abuse on the boy were severe, according to a pre-sentencing report prepared by a probation and parole officer at the time.
The boy withdrew from outside activities, lost interest in school, began drinking alcohol to excess, attempted suicide three times and eventually was hospitalized for psychological and social evaluation before beginning therapy. That information is in the confidential records recently unsealed by court order.
Records show Conrad confessed almost immediately when he was confronted by investigators. He went into therapy as well, sent there by his attorney once the charges were filed.
The treating psychiatrist, Ibrahim Bahrawy, provided a medical report as part of the pre-sentence investigation.
"I find him to be regretting his past experience of sexual indiscretion and willing to change his lifestyle," Bahrawy wrote. "He expressed sincere desire to work out and work through his sexual conflicts in psychotherapy sessions."
To get Conrad's case files unsealed, attorney Adria Y. LaRose of the Bangor-based law firm Eaton Peabody filed motions in Kennebec County Superior Court on behalf of the Kennebec Journal. That process revealed that Conrad lives in Lawrence, Mass., at the home where his parents resided in 1982.
A notice about the newspaper's effort to have the record unsealed was sent via certified mail to that address, but Conrad did not file an objection or any response with the court.
Murphy ordered a version of the report released that did not contain the victim's name; however, previously public court records do list it. The Kennebec Journal's policy is not to publish the names of victims of sex crimes.
A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE
The reports shows the boy reported the abuse in December 1982 to his high school guidance counselor, who in turn contacted Maine State Police.
One of the documents shows that Conrad's then-attorneys, Michael G. Messerschmidt and Thomas H. Collins, requested a hearing to keep an "alleged confession" to investigators on Dec. 15, 1982, from being used at a trial.
The pre-sentencing report says the victim came forward after seeing Conrad with a young man and "was concerned that Conrad might be continuing to do the same thing to other children."
"He felt no one should have to go through what he did," wrote Jane Staples, the probation and parole officer who prepared the pre-sentencing report. "He described the past six years as being very painful for him."
The report shows Conrad met the boy through Scouts and became friendly with him and his family, inviting him and other boys to his home for sleepovers and buying various presents for the boy.
Today, that's called "grooming the victim."
The sexual abuse continued, the report says, over a six-month period, stopping only after a member of the victim's family advised the boy to stop seeing Conrad.
The impact the abuse had on the boy is contained in a separate victim impact statement in the pre-sentencing report.
The statement says the boy, at least initially, had a great deal of respect for Conrad, who was the assistant Scoutmaster.
Just before the sentencing, the boy told the officer, "He's sick, but I still feel he should be punished." At that point, the boy said he planned to continue counseling because it helped him get things back into perspective.
As part of Conrad's sentence, he was ordered to pay $3,000 to the District Attorney's Office, and that money was to be held in trust for a year for counseling for the victim. The pre-sentencing report shows that the boy previously sought counseling, using wages from his part-time job to fund it.
The pre-sentence report also notes that Conrad, who was single, had become involved in the Big Brothers Program and the Mormon Church Youth Program. The documents contain no other information about his connection with those groups.
BANNED FROM SCOUTS
Staples' report notes that Conrad's "primary concerns appear to be on the negative ramifications to him in terms of family, work and church."
"His awareness and concern for the psychological damage to his victims has not been apparent in any way," the report states.
It also says Conrad told Maine State Police investigators that the sexual contact with the victim was limited to 10 to 20 encounters, which was less than the victim described, and that "he had never forced (the boy) or anyone to do anything."
Conrad also admitted having oral sex with five other boys -- whose relationship with him was not specified -- as well as several boys in New York.
Conrad would not comment on those reports in the interview Thursday.
Conrad's court documents show a series of addresses for him, including an apartment on Green Street in Augusta, a rural address in Hallowell, Pond Road in Manchester and finally in Lawrence.
He was registered with Troop 647 of Hallowell from 1977 until he resigned in 1979.
A Scout executive with the Pine Tree Council Inc., Boy Scouts of America, Haynes Harbaugh, wrote to the national organization on Dec. 16, 1982, that Maine State Police told him that day about Conrad's arrest "on a morals and sodomy charge." Harbaugh wrote more details would follow after the trial "with the proper information for your confidential file."
There was no trial.
The national Boy Scout organization shows a July 26, 1984, date for Conrad's listing as an ineligible volunteer, meaning he was banned from registering with the organization again.
Conrad had no previous criminal record, was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1969, and had spent the next 13 years working for the federal government, first with the Internal Revenue Service and then as an air traffic control specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration. That career ended with the sentencing.
Conrad is registered as a sex offender in Massachusetts.
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: