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Jury convicts Pasco County Boy Scouts leader on molestation charges

NEW PORT RICHEY — In two decades with the Boy Scouts, Steven Greenleaf took kids on camping trips, led meetings and held fundraisers.

And on numerous occasions, a jury decided Wednesday, he exposed himself to the boys and made sexual advances.

Greenleaf, the 55-year-old former leader of Troop 60 in New Port Richey, was convicted of four counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition and a single count of lewd and lascivious molestation. Jurors deliberated about an hour and 45 minutes before finding him guilty on all counts.

Greenleaf faces up to 75 years in prison when he is sentenced.

Three former Scouts accused him of showing them his genitals at his home, in his car and on Scouting trips. They said he also asked them to expose themselves and "be dirty."

Greenleaf was first confronted with one of the boy's allegations by sheriff's Detective Christopher Beaman in May 2007. The boy said Greenleaf had exposed himself twice during a weekend canoe and camping trip and in the bathroom of the church where the troop met.

After Greenleaf's arrest was reported in local newspapers, two more former Scouts came forward.

The arrest cost Greenleaf his job as a medical assistant at River's Edge Pediatrics in New Port Richey and his post in the Scout troop that he founded — although Greenleaf's assistant troop leader, a former Scout and Greenleaf's wife all came to court this week to testify in his defense.

Jurors on Tuesday heard a recording of Greenleaf's interview with the detective. Greenleaf, sounding rattled, said "it's a distinct possibility" that one of the boys saw his penis in a bathroom during a scout meeting.

When asked if he had an erection during one of the alleged incidents, he responded, "no, not that I know of."

In his closing argument Wednesday afternoon, prosecutor James Goodnow harped on Greenleaf's qualified answers.

"It's sure not the way you respond to questions if it never happened," Goodnow said.

The case, he told jurors, represented "closure from multiple offenses of abuse suffered at the hands of one person, a man that was trusted by parents to teach right and wrong, a man that was trusted to teach children respect."

Defense attorney Christopher Frey tried to play up the inconsistencies in the stories. The boys, now 17, 14 and 13, couldn't remember many of the incidents, he argued, and were fuzzy on details of the ones they did recall.

"These inconsistencies aren't minor things. They are the entire allegations," Frey told jurors. "None of them are true. None of it happened."

Indeed, Greenleaf was emphatic when questioned by Frey on the witness stand Wednesday.

"Were you ever in the bathroom alone with one of the boys?" Frey asked.

"No," Greenleaf said.

"Did you ever make a comment to any of the boys about your penis?"

"No."

Under cross-examination, however, Greenleaf equivocated much the same way he did when the detective interviewed him.

"Do you recall telling Detective Beaman, 'Probably yes, he saw my penis'?" Goodnow asked him.

"I think that was a hypothetical," Greenleaf said.

"Is that the answer you gave?" Goodnow said.

"May have," Greenleaf said. "Yes, may have."

Jury convicts Pasco County Boy Scouts leader on molestation charges 07/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:03pm]
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