Boy Scout "perversion files" reveal South Bend judge may have been involved in cover-up

1970 case involved "compromising" photos of local scouting official

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By Tony Spehar - tspehar@abc57.com

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - After a legal battle lasting for years, an Oregon based law firm released over 14,000 documents detailing alleged abuse reported within the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday.

Some of the cases in the so-called "perversion files" took place in South Bend.

In one case file dating back to 1970, Judge Robert A. Grant of the United States District Court in Northern Indiana appears to have taken part in covering up a case involving a local scout official.  The Federal Courthouse in South Bend is now named after Grant.

According to the 15-pages of confidential correspondence among scouting officials the case began in March of 1970. Internal memos state that "compromising" photos of Don Wroble, a scout leader and Judo teacher for a local police department and the YMCA, had been given to the Tri-Valley Council (South Bend's Boy Scout organization at the time). 

Details of what was in the photos and what exactly Wroble was accused of doing weren't available, but scouting officials apparently found them problematic enough to ask that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America restrict him from being involved in scouting.

"Confronting Wroble with the fact that we had such evidence, I suggested he leave Scouting quietly and that he and I would be the only two people who had any knowledge of why he was being asked to leave," Ray Whittaker, Scout Executive with the Tri-Valley Council, wrote in a letter to the national council.

Officials wrote that Wroble denied any wrongdoing and said the pictures must be forgeries, he also wrote the national council fighting his being barred from participating in scouting.

"It would seem to me that Wroble has, in so many ways, hurt himself (by talking with Scouters and telling them that the council was trying "to pick on him"; relating to these same scouters that he was charged with homosexuality (in which he disclaims all knowledge)," Whittaker stated in his letter.

According to the documents, Judge Robert A. Grant, Tri-Valley Council Vice-President, was consulted about the case to offer legal advice.  According to the Ray Whittaker letter, Judge Grant assigned his Chief Probation Officer to investigate the situation.  The National Council of the Boy Scouts had the scout leaders in South Bend fill out a confidential record sheet regarding Wroble (these sheets were used in the "perversion files" allegedly kept by the scouts to keep track of potential problem members) and also had the pictures sent to the national headquarters.

There were several letters sent back and forth between the South Bend scout leaders and the national council until Ray Whittaker wrote back to the national council saying they'd apparently resolved the situation.

"Judge Grant and myself would both deem it a great privilege if you would return the pictures which I mailed to you (keep a copy of said pictures if you can)," Whittaker wrote.  "Judge Grant's agreement with Wrobel was that in return for Wrobel's leaving Scouting quietly we would return said pictures to him for his disposal."

Months later Earl L. Krall, an administrator with the National Council of the Boy Scouts, responded to the request in a letter to Judge Grant.

"I am sending you the pictures concerning Donald E. Wrobel," Krall wrote.  "We appreciate your involvement in this case for the protection of the Boy Scouts of America."

Then in a letter to Ray Whittaker, Judge Grant advised him to keep Wroble's name on file to pass down to future executives to insure Wroble wouldn't be allowed in scouting again.

"None of us has much, if any, file on this subject," Judge Grant wrote.  "It is well that we don't."

With the international attention given to the release of the documents the website for the law firm that released the documents was overwhelmed for most of Thursday, the case involving Judge Grant was the only one ABC 57 was able to examine, but there are other local cases in the "perversion files."
 

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