PHOENIX -- A man who was once a leader with the Boy Scouts of America in Arizona, and the man he lived with, were arrested Thursday morning on child sex crimes charges.
William "Bill" Challberg, 62, is facing 26 charges. Julian Mendoza, 51, is facing 15 charges. The two men were in a relationship with each other, according to police.
The investigation covers the time period of 1983 to 2003.
The men are accused of having inappropriate contact with at least five male victims who ranged in age from 9 to 16 at the time of the offenses.
Police said one of the victims was a Boy Scout. The other victims were neighborhood children and friends.
Police said many of the offenses occurred at the suspects' house in Phoenix near 32nd Street and Indian School Road.
Police served a search warrant at the home on Thursday afternoon. They were looking for photographs and videos that may be relevant to the investigation.
"We just kind of always kept our eye on it," said Guy McIntosh, a neighbor who suspected something was not right at the home. "He always had these really elaborate Halloween things. The house was really cool for the Halloween kids, but we never went there because we'd heard there might be suspicious things going on."
The case was brought to the Phoenix Police Department by the Youth Protection Advisor at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in October 2013. During a review of files, a written complaint against Challberg was located. That complaint contained very specific details of sexual abuse allegations from a victim and his father. The Boy Scouts responded by forcing Challberg to resign from the organization. The victim did not make a separate police report to the Phoenix Police Department.
"The whole thing is disappointing," said Sgt. Trent Crump with the Phoenix Police Dept. "To think that you have the young boys that you're putting in a program to help mentor them, to help build their character is actually a program that is causing harm to them at the time."
Since October 2013, a thorough investigation by the Family Investigations Bureau Crimes Against Children Unit has identified at least five separate male victims. Each victim was located and interviewed. The victims disclosed several counts of various types of sexual abuse, sexual assault, furnishing of harmful items, such as drugs and pornography as well as sexual exploitation of minors by taking photographs and videos.
"You have to look at the work now that they're [Boy Scouts] doing," said Sgt. Crump. This was brought forward to us by an organization that is trying to right a wrong, an organization that is painstakingly going back through files and looking at them to decide if what are the rules now and could something different be done than was then."
Challberg was also a bus driver with Veoila, working for the city of Phoenix. One of the alleged incidents of abuse occurred on a city bus, according to police.
Investigators said there is a possibility that there are more victims. Anyone with information is asked to call police.
Child Crimes Hotline email address: email@example.com
Child Crimes Hotline phone number: 602-262-4543 (4KID)
Silent Witness: 1-800-948-6377
Statement from Boy Scouts of America
These allegations from nearly 30 years ago run counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. Following a report of abuse, in 1986, the BSA removed this individual from Scouting and placed him on the BSA’s Ineligible Volunteer File list.
Beginning In 2011, in connection with the BSA mandatory reporting policy, the BSA undertook a review of its Ineligible Volunteer Files which dated back to the 1960s. This individual’s file did not clearly indicate that the matter had been reported to law enforcement at the time of his removal from Scouting in 1986, so the BSA reported it to the authorities last year.
Today, the BSA policies require that any suspicion of abuse be reported immediately to local authorities. The BSA seeks to prevent child abuse through a comprehensive program of education, chartered organization leader selection process, criminal background and other checks, and policies and procedures to serve as barriers to abuse.
Former #Phoenix Boy Scout leader arrested for alleged sex abuse which started in 1983. Police didn't get case until 2013. Reports on GEAZ— Natalie Brand (@NatalieBrand) June 12, 2014