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Former Michigan Boy Scouts leader pleads guilty to sexually abusing two boys

Mark Chapman admitted to sexually assaulting the two young boys over 20 years ago in a Detroit suburb.

Michigan detectives investigating sex abuse in the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America have notched their first conviction — a former scoutmaster who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two young boys over 20 years ago in a Detroit suburb.

Mark Chapman, a convicted child molester who served a nine-year sentence in a New York prison for sexually abusing another young boy, now faces an additional 12 to 20 years in a Michigan penitentiary for preying on the two scouts, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

“Regardless how much time has passed, or how difficult the circumstances of a case may be, I am committed to seeing abusers held accountable for their crimes,” she said in a statement after Chapman pleaded guilty Monday to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. 

Mark Chapman, 51, of New York pleaded guilty in Macomb County, Michigan.
Mark Chapman, 51, of New York pleaded guilty in Macomb County, Mich.WDIV

Sentencing for Chapman has been set for Dec. 14. His attorney, Samuel Bennett, did not respond to a request for comment.

Chapman, 51, landed on the radar of the Michigan State Police after he was identified as an alleged predator by a person who called Nessel’s tip line last year for Boy Scouts sex abuse victims.

Police zeroed in on Chapman, who had been living in New York since 2007, in June 2021 after sifting through the 5,000 Boy Scouts claims that had been sent from Michigan.

At the time, Chapman was serving a nine-year sentence at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, New York, for abusing a 9-year-old boy. And Michigan State Police took custody of Chapman in March the minute he was paroled.

Nessel charged Chapman with eight new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Two decades ago, Chapman worked as a janitor at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church in Roseville, Michigan, where the scout troop he led sometimes met.

Chapman began abusing one victim in 2000 when the boy was 13 or 14 years old, Nessel said. The abuse, which continued until the victim was 17, happened at the victim’s house, Chapman’s house and at the church.

The other victim was an 11-year-old family member who suffered abuse for years, which “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 released when Chapman was re-arrested in March.

In response to a request for comment on Chapman’s conviction, the BSA released a statement that read, in part: "The BSA fully engaged with the Michigan attorney general’s office on this matter and is committed to supporting ongoing investigative efforts."

At the time of Chapman’s re-arrest, the Boy Scouts confirmed in a pair of statements that the suspect scoutmaster was “a registered unit leader in various capacities from 1999 to 2007.”

Chapman was not part of the Boy Scouts when he was convicted in New York in 2013, but his name was added to “to the BSA’s Volunteer Screening Database thus prohibiting any future involvement in the Boy Scouts of America,” the BSA said.

Faced with an avalanche of abuse allegations, the Boy Scouts settled a lawsuit in 2021 for $850 million in civil court with more than 84,000 victims who said they were molested and abused while they were scouts. 

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

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