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Ex-Scout leader accused of molestation

He's also the chief suspect in a series of fraud cases

Nicholas Barnard
Nicholas Barnard

A former Boy Scout leader in Tooele has been charged in 3rd District Court with molesting a young boy in his troop.

Now detectives are worried about possible other victims in both the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys. In addition, the man is the chief suspect in a series of fraud cases, some involving the Scouts.

Nicholas Kurtis Barnard, 22, was charged Nov. 4 with two counts of sodomy of a child. Police say the victim was under 13 years old. Barnard was in the Tooele County Jail Thursday on $50,000 bail.

The Scoutmaster of the troop planned to meet with the other boys today to determine if there was additional information they could provide to investigators, according to police.

Barnard was an assistant Scout leader with the troop, said Tooele County sheriff's detective Jim Dekanich.

"I can't say whether he used his position to lure the boy in. But with his position he had access to the boy," he said.

Kay Godfrey, spokesman for the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America, confirmed that Barnard was at one time registered as a Scout leader. He also worked as a counselor at a Boy Scout summer camp several years ago and may have been involved with troops in Salt Lake County.

"We're really ticked off about (this situation)," Godfrey said. "People like this take the good name of Scouting with them. It's an obstacle that's difficult to overcome.

"We've got the best youth and adult screening processes in place. This has been a really big deal with us for a lot of years. But every once in awhile someone surfaces," he said.

All registered Scout leaders are given a background check. Godfrey said Barnard had a clean criminal history.

What concerns investigators now is that Barnard apparently put himself in situations where he was around children. One of his affiliations was Hollywood Connection in West Valley City, Dekanich said.

In fact, Godfrey said Barnard was terminated from Scouting after he allegedly hosted events at Hollywood Connection, 3217 S. Decker Lake Drive (3341 West) not sponsored by the Boy Scouts.

In 2004, West Valley police investigated Barnard for allegedly running what Godfrey described as "make-shift camping experiences." Barnard allegedly held clinics called "Camp Connection" that were designed to help Scouts get merit badges.

"He allegedly booked functions (at Hollywood Connection) after hours involving Boy Scouts. He'd book functions, open (the business) up . . . collect money. He hired people to do security but allegedly never paid them," said West Valley police Capt. Tom McLachlan.

The Boy Scouts turned down Barnard's request to endorse the event, said Godfrey.

"We weren't comfortable with this. We told him we would not support such an activity," Godfrey said. "We thought that's where that ended until we started to receive invoices from companies expected to be paid for activities he did anyway. This young man owes a number of companies a considerable amount of money, and they expect us to pay them."

Criminal charges were never filed because it was considered a civil matter, according to McLachlan. No civil suits have been filed.

There is currently an open investigation, however, by West Valley police into the purchase of a vehicle with checks written on a closed account. Barnard is a person of interest in that case, McLachlan said.

The sodomy charges stem from an alleged incident on or about Oct. 1, according to court documents.

The alleged assaults did not happen during a Boy Scout function, Dekanich said.

The case was brought to light by the boy's mother who became suspicious of the excessive amount of gifts Barnard was allegedly giving the boy and the amount of time he was spending with him, Dekanich said.

Barnard lived for a short time with the victim's family and with the family of another Scout, according to a recent article in the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin.

Anyone with additional information about Barnard is asked to call either the Tooele County Sheriff's Office at 435-843-3336 or your local police agency where the information will be forwarded.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com