Clayton “Kelly” Seale had heard the rumors about their Boy Scout district's scoutmaster. All the boys had.
But to a 12-year-old, the rumors were hard to understand.
“It didn’t really click in my mind that this was going to happen to me or that they were even true,” Seale recently told The Billings Gazette.
Seale, now 60, lives in Colstrip where he works as an operational engineer for the power plant. He grew up in Kentucky, where he says the abuse occurred. He has joined a national law group bringing lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America alleging sexual abuse. The Billings Gazette has a policy of typically not naming the victims of sex crimes. Seale has asked to be named.
His district scoutmaster occasionally joined the boys on camping trips. Afterwards, Seale recalls that fellow Scouts would ask one another, “Did he get you?”
One weekend his district scoutmaster asked Seale to go with a group of Scouts on a special camping trip. Seale got permission from his parents and was picked up by his scoutmaster.
In the car, his scoutmaster told him all the other boys canceled. He tossed Seale some “nudie” magazines. Seale remembers absent-mindedly flipping through them before discarding them.
After a relatively normal day at the campsite, the boy and scoutmaster bunked down in a single tent. He remembers his scoutmaster trying to hug and fondle him.
Seale said he jumped out of the tent, and put on all the layers of clothing he’d brought. Back in the tent, he zipped himself tightly into his sleeping bag. Despite the precautions, he woke up to his scoutmaster molesting him under his many layers.
When Seale sprung out of the tent his scoutmaster didn’t pursue him.
“His victims, he wanted them to agree to it. He wanted them to participate, he didn’t want to do it by force,” Seale now thinks. “He was looking to groom me to where he could continue on and go further.”
The return trip home was quiet. His scoutmaster told him to tell no one what happened. When he got home, his parents immediately knew something was wrong, he said.
“They saw it in my eyes,” he said. Seale’s parents believed him. They got his local troop leader involved, who also believed the boy. The district scoutmaster left his position and Seale never saw him again.
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Support from his family helped him cope with trauma as a child, he said. Seale grew up and moved on, and the incident was largely forgotten.
“It was like everything went away,” he said. “It’s like something that was buried.”
Twenty years later his abuse suddenly re-emerged after a fellow Scout told him that the abusive scoutmaster had continued on as a volunteer with the BSA in a different area.
As a child, he hadn’t realized his parents didn't press charges against the man.
“It was hush-hush, swept under the rug,” he said. The man had agreed to leave their district and that was that.
“That’s what bothered me and that’s what made me want to contact my lawyer here to get involved,” he said. “Because, he might have molested other boys. But if me and the other boys in the troops that were molested had come forward, he would have been prosecuted and put in jail and not harm other kids.”
His abuser has long been dead, something that has been frustrating for Seale, knowing that the abuser of he and his fellow Scouts will never get justice.
But, the BSA needs to be held responsible, he said.
Joining the lawsuit, and telling his story openly has been empowering for Seale, and the first step to reparation for himself and others.
"As a man it’s even more difficult to talk about," he said. "But it happens to men or boys just as often as to women."
His story might help others come forward.
"Now in 2019 we have to encourage people to come forward and talk about these things," he said. "Especially if it’s happening now and they don’t know what to do and are afraid that people won’t believe them. People have to speak up."