CAPE MAY — The arrest of a local man on sex charges against boys, at least one of whom he may have met in volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America, has county authorities fishing for more potential victims.
Cape May Prosecutor Robert Taylor is not releasing much information on the link between Frank L. “Sandy” Thomson, 68, of Windsor Avenue, and Boy Scout Troop 73 in West Cape May, other than to say Thomson was an assistant scoutmaster for the troop.
Taylor and Cape May City police Capt. Robert Sheehan on Thursday announced Thomson has been charged with aggravated sexual contact, luring/enticing a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Two children were alleged victims in separate incidents years apart. The more recent one, which led to charges being filed on July 27, was that Thomson allegedly tried to lure or entice an 11-year-old boy.
“After several interviews it was learned that Thomson was ‘grooming’ the young juvenile for sexual purposes by buying him expensive gifts,” states a joint release from Taylor and Sheehan.
Taylor said it is an ongoing investigation and news about the case could “jog people’s memories” and bring other victims forward. Still, he stopped short of identifying the boy as a member of Troop 73.
“We’re concerned that it’s a small troop down there and we’re afraid it will identify the juvenile. We don’t want to hinder the investigation because we feel we’re going to get more calls,” said Taylor.
Thomson is currently housed in the Cape May County jail with bail set at $175,000. He faces charges of luring/enticing a child and endangering the welfare of a child, both second-degree crimes that can bring prison terms of five to 10 years.
Authorities said interviews on the case led to another set of charges filed July 28 for an alleged crime that Taylor said took place “a considerable amount of time ago.”
Those charges include aggravated sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child, which combined could bring eight to 15 years. Again, Taylor did not say this alleged victim was a member of Troop 73.
Thomson, a former firefighter in Cape May and treasurer at the Corinthian Yacht Club on Cape May Harbor, and who was active with a local church, began volunteering with the Boy Scout troop in 2004. He is reportedly an Eagle Scout himself, though this could not be confirmed by the organization, which said it would have predated computer records.
The Boy Scouts of America took swift action against Thomson upon hearing the news.
“We heard of the issue and we followed the Boy Scout procedures and based on that his Boy Scout registration has been revoked,” said Kevin J. Bishop, who directs the Garden State Council, which oversees the Boy Scouts in Cape May County and five other southern New Jersey counties.
Bishop said a criminal background check is conducted on all volunteers and the organization’s youth protection program would mean Thomson could not be alone with an individual at any scout function. He said at least two leaders are always present.
“There is no one-on-one. If he violated youth protection policies, it was outside of scouting. Based on what I’ve heard, it was not in the context of a scouting program, scout’s honor,” said Bishop.
Troop 73 began as Cub Scouts around 2000 and as the boys got older they also formed a Boy Scout Troop based out of the West Cape May Fire Hall. The troop has been an impressive feature at public events in the area in recent years and has had local police officers, firefighters, school administrators, municipal attorneys, and other community leaders involved while their children went through the program.
A tip led authorities to investigate Thomson and his relationship with the 11-year-old boy, authorities said.
Taylor said it is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information can contact his office at 609-465-1135.
Taylor said his office will continue to work with the county’s municipalities to target sexual predators who prey on children. This was a joint investigation by the Cape May Police Department and the Special Victims Unit at the Prosecutor’s Office.