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Scout leader charged with exchanging child porn on Net

Wed., March 30, 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas – The national director of programs for the Boy Scouts of America has resigned after being charged with one count of receiving and distributing child pornography via the Internet.

Douglas Sovereign Smith Jr., 61, of Colleyville, Texas, was scheduled to be arraigned this morning in federal court in Fort Worth. He surrendered to authorities last week and was released on a personal recognizance bond.

Smith is expected to plead guilty today, a source in the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Smith declined to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Jack V. Strickland of Fort Worth. Strickland would not say whether Smith will plead guilty.

“I’m not saying that he’s not, but somebody is talking out of school here,” Strickland said.

Smith resigned from the Boy Scouts on Feb. 28 after he learned he was the focus of a government investigation, Strickland said.

“The Boy Scouts are not involved in this in any way, either by design or by accident,” Strickland said.

Smith was employed by the Boy Scouts for 39 years and since 1996 had worked in the national office in Irving, said Gregg Shields, national spokesman for the Boy Scouts. The organization sent a memo to employees Tuesday informing them of the charges against Smith.

Smith had no direct day-to-day contact with children, Shields said. As national program director, he coordinated Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs including rank advancement, paperwork, books and booklets involved with Scouting.

The organization had no indication of any criminal history on Smith’s part, Shields said.

“This has never happened in anyone’s recollection to any employee of the Boy Scouts of America,” he said.

In February, a law enforcement official came to the national office in Irving, informed Scout officials of the investigation and told them that no criminal activity had occurred on the premises, Shields said. Smith was immediately placed on leave.

Scouting officials were told that none of the images in question depict Boy Scouts, Shields said.

Smith used the Internet to receive and distribute images showing minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to court documents. The investigation began in Germany and involved images of boys.

Strickland said the government investigation is not limited to Smith and more details will be revealed at today’s hearing.

If convicted, Smith could face five to 20 years in federal prison.

Strickland said Smith had not been involved with Scout troops for a number of years. He described Smith as a churchgoing, happily married man and father of three grown children.

“I would hope this man’s character would not be judged solely on the basis of one charge and one allegation,” Strickland said. “He’s a good man who has done good work for his entire life.”

Shields said the Boy Scouts of America has compiled a list of people who are deemed ineligible to work with the organization. Since 2003, the organization has required volunteers to undergo criminal background checks.


 

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