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Nessel announces charges against a former scoutmaster

a shield-shaped badge with red cross on white background hangs from a blue pin reading "god and country" on a tan uniform, embroidered with the words "Boy Scouts of America" in red
Tony Gutierrez/AP
A Boy Scout uniform badge in 2013

Michigan’s attorney general announced Wednesday the first charges of her investigation into abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

Mark Chapman, 51, faces eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Those charges stem from alleged abuse against two people who were children at the time of the incidents that occurred before 2007. During a press conference announcing the charges, state Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark identified Chapman as a former scoutmaster in Macomb County.

Nessel said the investigation arose from claims that came up during a civil case against the Boy Scouts.

“Allegations of widespread sex abuse in the Boy Scouts of America and the civil case against the organization brought forward information that demanded action,” Nessel said.

Chapman had been imprisoned in New York on unrelated abuse charges. An inmate lookup on the New York State Department of Corrections website lists him as being granted conditional release Wednesday.

New York State Police told the Michigan Public Radio Network that it brought him into custody Wednesday afternoon on a “fugitive from justice” warrant. It was unclear whether Chapman was trying to evade authorities or if the warrant was the result of him being released from New York prison to immediately face criminal charges in another Michigan.

Chapman could not be reached for comment, and it was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Overall, the Michigan Attorney General’s office said its ongoing investigation into the Boy Scouts has resulted in 5,000 claims. So far, around 60 have been sent to the Michigan State Police for investigation.

In a written statement, the Boy Scouts of America called Chapman’s alleged actions “reprehensible.” The organization said safety is its top priority and that it has instituted multiple safeguards to prevent future abuse.

“The BSA strongly supports efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable,” the statement said.

It also said the organization banned Chapman from scouts in 2012, when it discovered he was facing charges in New York. During bankruptcy proceedings, it said more accusations came to light.

“Upon learning of allegations of abuse in Michigan, the BSA reported the new allegations to law enforcement in January 2021,” the statement said.

Wednesday’s press conference also brought updates from the state attorney general’s investigation into abuse within the clergy.

Nessel told reporters that search warrants of the Dioceses of Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Saginaw, Marquette, and the Archdiocese of Detroit have led to the seizure of hundreds of paper documents and millions of digital ones.

She said that has led to the identification of 454 accused priests and 811 reported survivors.

“Information is also received through our tip-line and that has generated 958 tips related to abuse, leading to at least 152 police investigations, 180 victim interviews, and 285 police reports. And there remain approximately 100 open investigations that are ongoing,” Nessel said.