A young life changed: Paper trail shows abuse could have been prevented

Posted at 12:47 PM, Oct 25, 2012
and last updated 2016-09-07 15:25:09-04

A man who grew up in the Kansas City area agonizes over one question: Would his life have turned out differently if Scouts had reported the man who molested him?

After being contacted by 41 Action News, Ross Reinitz discovered a paper trail that suggests the sexual abuse he suffered as an 11-year-old boy could have been prevented.

In May of 1982, leaders of Pack 422 in Independence, Mo. asked 33-year-old Frank Picon to resign as a cubmaster.

Picon’s confidential file had two letters from Scouting leaders that alluded to troubling details. Though they didn’t provide specific allegations, they left a clear impression about Picon’s disturbing involvement with the organization.

“Mr. Picon should in no way be involved with boys especially while in the Boy Scouts of America,” wrote the minister of an Independence church, who also acted as chairman of the pack. “I can in no way trust him with my children, and I will not trust him with the boys in my pack. This particular trait is not conducive to good mental health.”

Another Scout leader added, “Due to happenings which I do not wish to delve into, it is my sincere belief that Frank should not have the opportunity to work with boys in any capacity. He seems to have an unhealthy affinity for boys.”

The local Scout executive sent a letter to Picon, dismissing him from the organization.

Despite the apparent knowledge that Picon had molested boys in the organization, there was no mention of reporting the situation to police. The Scouts' letter assured Picon the reason to remove him from Scouting would be “maintained as confidential.”

But Picon’s file also included newspaper clippings from the Kansas City Star. The articles said Picon was arrested by Independence police and charged with sexually assaulting two boys.

The most important part of the articles is the timeline it provides: both assaults occurred roughly six weeks after the BSA kicked Picon out of the organization. Could that abuse have been prevented?

41 Action News requested the report taken by an Independence detective back in July 1982.
It documented a chilling statement provided by an 11-year-old victim, who told police Picon had abused a lot of other boys.

“He brought in a list which he stated belongs to the suspect on which the suspect keeps the names of all the boys he had or wants to have homosexual contact with,” wrote the detective.

The list started in 1962. It detailed specific sexual acts and whether the boys were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the victim, some of the names on the list were boys Picon met during Scouting.

Picon pleaded guilty to sodomy and was sentenced to seven years in a Missouri prison in 1983. Records show he died in 2001.

What happened to that 11-year-old who showed up at the Independence Police Department with his grandmother and told a detective about the abuse back in 1982?

41 Action News found Ross Reinitz living in a prison cell at Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas.

After receiving a letter, Reinitz contacted 41 Action News by phone. That is when he first heard the stunning news: the Boy Scouts had known about Picon’s sexual abuse, but had failed to report it to police.

“It was the most horrible thing that I ever experienced,” said Reinitz. “I know I would be a different person today had that not happened.”

Reinitz said immediately after the sexual assaults, he started drinking and using drugs. He has battled addictions ever since.

His criminal record shows convictions for theft, burglary and aggravated robbery. He is expected to serve a prison sentence until 2022.

41 Action News requested an interview with Reinitz so he could see Picon’s confidential file in person. However, prison officials declined the request.

“It disgusts me to think that the Boy Scouts knew about him and didn’t do anything,” Reinitz said.