05/28/2024

Some Crim

Track the Untold Stories

David Lee Nelson was sentenced for hiding cameras in Boy Scout camp bathrooms in Missouri. (Camp exterior screenshot from KTVI/YouTube; Mug shot from St. Francois County Sheriff's Department via KTVI/YouTube)

Former Boy Scout volunteer who hid cameras in camp bathrooms gets decades behind bars

David Lee Nelson was sentenced for hiding cameras in Boy Scout camp bathrooms in Missouri. (Camp exterior screenshot from KTVI/YouTube; Mug shot from St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department via KTVI/YouTube)

A former Boy Scout volunteer has been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for hiding cameras in bathrooms that caught sexually explicit material of male and female victims whose ages ranged from 11 to 15 at a Missouri Boy Scout camp.

David Lee Nelson, 41, of Washington state, learned his fate on Thursday. He was also ordered to pay $55,000 to victims and for prevention programs and $6,810 for counseling for the victims, prosecutors announced in a news release. He will be on supervised release for life after he gets out of prison and will be barred from having contact with minors without permission, officials said. He pleaded guilty in January to two counts of production of child pornography and two counts of attempted production of child pornography.

Related Coverage:

    During Thursday’s hearing, victims and their parents said Nelson was supposed to protect the scouts and be someone children could trust, prosecutors said.

    “Nelson’s crimes, they said, have now left them unable to trust others,” prosecutors said in the news release. “The victims also said they now experience fear and discomfort every time they try to use a public bathroom.”

    In arguing for 15 years imprisonment, Nelson’s attorney, Adam Fein, wrote in court documents that he was molested decades ago in a Boy Scout summer camp shower room.

    “David has been confined in a local jail with little to do other than reflect for four months shy of three years,” the defense sentencing memo said. “But almost three years of reflection haven’t helped him understand the connection between his offense and its apparent mainspring: his molestation decades ago in a Boy Scout summer camp shower room. David can’t fathom why his molestation years earlier would have moved him to act as he did.”

    “Whatever the explanation, David hopes to get mental health treatment while in prison to grasp what he still can’t fully comprehend, better understand himself, and discover the motives and connections underlying his behavior,” the filing also said.

    Nelson was discovered on July 23, 2021, at the S Bar F Scout Ranch, a 5,200-acre wooded Boy Scout facility for boys and girls in St. Francois County, according to the guilty plea agreement which outlined details about the case.

    The cameras were found when scouts and a camp leader were cleaning out restroom stalls. The cameras were found duct taped and hidden inside paper towel dispensers and positioned to record the interior of the bathroom and shower stall, the document said. The cameras were turned over to the camp manager, and the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department was called, court documents said.

    When a deputy arrived and asked Nelson if he had left anything inside the bathrooms, Nelson said he had left his phone charger in a bathroom on July 22, 2021, and discovered it missing the next night. He said he had gone into both bathrooms to check for the charger but couldn’t find it. He didn’t mention leaving cameras in bathroom stalls, court documents said.

    Authorities reviewed the contents of the cameras and found multiple videos that had been recorded in the camp restrooms on July 23, 2021, depicting two minor children engaged in sexually explicit conduct and four other victims, both male and female, whose ages ranged from 11-15, court documents said. In one video, the defendant himself is seen positioning one of the cameras and manipulating his mobile phone, court documents said.

    He was arrested on July 26, 2021.

    Sign up for the Law&Crime Daily Newsletter for more breaking news and updates

    Authorities said that none of the victims knew that Nelson had set up the cameras.

    When news about the case came out, The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement, saying, “The Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America places the safety and well-being of our Scouts, volunteers, and their families as our top priority. We are saddened, disturbed, and angered by this incident as it runs counter to everything we stand for at the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.”

    The post Former Boy Scout volunteer who hid cameras in camp bathrooms gets decades behind bars first appeared on Law & Crime.