Boy Scouts 'shocked and disgusted' over Long Island abuse allegations

NORTH BELLMORE, Long Island (WABC) -- The Boy Scouts of America is responding to the arrest of an assistant scout leader charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy on Long Island.

Nassau County police arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Spohrer at his home in North Bellmore on Thursday after an extensive investigation, the department said.

Police said Spohrer abused the boy during Boy Scouts retreats at several locations in New York state from January through November of 2018.

"We are shocked and disgusted at this alleged behavior, which is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands," said Chris Coscia, Scout Executive, Theodore Roosevelt Council, Boy Scouts of America, in a statement. "Upon learning of these reports, we removed this individual and prohibited him from any future participation in our programs."

Spohrer was arraigned Friday on a second-degree charge of sexual conduct against a child. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail.

"Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs - it is our top priority," Coscia said. "The Boy Scouts of America has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children - either in person, online, or via text; a ban on the use of recording devices/cell phones near bathrooms and shower houses; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse."

Spohrer's attorney, Joseph Carbone, Jr., said his client denies the allegations.

"We look forward to vigorously defending these allegations in court and have faith in the legal system which presumes the innocence of the accused," Carbone said Saturday.

Coscia said the Boy Scouts offer a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline at 1-844-726-8871, as well as an email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) to access counseling and help needed to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.

"We will host parent meetings to ensure families know about the resources we provide to help them speak with their children about this challenging topic, and to encourage them to come forward to report any suspected abuse and access any support they need," Coscia said. "That includes access to counseling by a provider of their choice, which the BSA provides to anyone who has been abused in Scouting and to members of their family."

CLICK HERE for more information about the BSA's youth protection policies.

Detectives request anyone that feels they may have been a victim of a similar incident contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS, Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022 or call 911.

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