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Former Michigan Boy Scouts leader charged with abusing boys 20 years ago

Mark Chapman was paroled Wednesday after serving nine years in a New York prison for unrelated sex crimes.
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A former Boy Scouts of America scoutmaster was headed from one prison to another Wednesday after he was charged with sexually assaulting two young boys over 20 years ago in a Detroit suburb.

Mark Chapman was paroled Wednesday after serving nine years in a New York prison for unrelated sex crimes and was released directly into the custody of Michigan authorities, officials said.

Chapman, 51, was hit with 10 new sex charges after he was identified as an alleged predator by a caller to the Michigan state attorney general’s tip line for Boy Scouts sex abuse victims, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

“Mark Chapman is alleged to have abused children for years,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “He threatened them with violence when they refused to participate or tried to stop him when he was continuing his assaults and he is the source of their pain, their psychological scars and their mental anguish.”

Chapman, who also worked as a janitor at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints church in Roseville, Michigan, where his scout troop sometimes met, allegedly began abusing one victim in 2000 when they were 13 or 14 years old, Nessel said.

The alleged abuse, which continued until the victim was 17, happened at the victim’s house, at Chapman’s house and at the church, Nessel said.

The other victim was an 11-year-old family member and the alleged abuse went on for years “and often revolved around times that were designated as special opportunities for Chapman to spend time with the boy,” Nessel’s office said in a statement.

Chapman was transferred into Michigan custody after he was paroled from the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, where he’d served nine years for sexually abusing a young boy, New York State corrections records show.

It’s not known if Chapman has a lawyer; NBC News was unable to find one.

“The defendant is a sick, twisted sexual deviant who irreparably injured an innocent young boy by repeatedly sexually abusing him over the course of many years,” then-Ontario County First Assistant District Attorney Brian Dennis said of Chapman in 2013 when he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 10 years of supervised parole.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said in a pair of statements that Chapman was "a registered unit leader in various capacities from 1999 to 2007."

"He was never a BSA employee," one statement said.

And Chapman was not part of the organization when he was convicted in New York but his name was added to “to the BSA’s Volunteer Screening Database thus prohibiting any future involvement in the Boy Scouts of America.”

“In connection with the BSA’s bankruptcy, the BSA learned that Mark Douglas Chapman had been registered in Michigan in the early 2000s during which he is alleged to have abused two youth,” the other BSA statement said. “Upon learning of allegations of abuse in Michigan, the BSA reported the new allegations to law enforcement in January 2021.”

Chapman was charged Wednesday by Nessel’s office with eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The BSA settled a lawsuit last year for $850 million in civil court with more than 84,000 victims who said they were sexually abused while scouts. 

It was the largest settlement of its kind in United States history and badly damaged the reputation of a 110-year-old organization that had been plagued with claims of abuse from volunteers and leaders since the 1960s. 

The BSA filed for bankruptcy in 2020 as it faced mounting legal costs to defend itself against claims of sexual abuse against boys.

Investigators from the Michigan State Police zeroed-in on Chapman, who had been living in New York since 2007, in June while sifting through the 5,000 BSA abuse claims that had been sent from Michigan.

Chapman is the first former Boy Scout leader to be charged as a result of this review, Nessel said. 

The Michigan State Police have reviewed 550 claims so far and concluded that at least 60 of them warrant “further investigation,” Nessel said. 

“It remains imperative that sexual predators be held accountable, and one of my top priorities remains securing justice for survivors of abuse,” Nessel said. “We appreciate our partnership with MSP to reach this point in this important investigation into the Boy Scouts of America. These charges are only the beginning.”