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Sea Scout Leader Makes Bail; Police Ask Public’s Assistance

Tuesday December 11, 2007

Suspended Sea Scoutmaster Eugene Austin Evans, charged with multiple counts of abusing youths under his care, was bailed out of jail Friday, pending his arraignment in January. 

Meanwhile, current and former Sea Scouts and their parents were scheduled to meet Monday night to organize a defense campaign for the 64-year-old scoutmaster, according to one parent who was invited to attend. 

Berkeley Police arrested Evans Dec. 4 at the same time they served multiple warrants to search for evidence to substantiate allegations by scouts. 

He is charged with abusing four youths, and police are seeking others they believe may have been abused during Evans’ 35 years at the helm of the SSS (for Sea Scout Ship) Farallon. 

But Scout Executive Al Westberg of the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said Evans’ membership in the organization has been terminated. 

Westberg said he is working with his counterpart at the Alameda Council to organize a meeting with parents, and the organization will offer counseling to any youths who need it. 

“We are working to set up the meeting, and we will attempt to have law enforcement there,” he said. 

Evans retains ownership of the Farallon, which is his personal property. “We don’t own any” of the boats, Westberg said, and the name “ship” as used by the scouts refers to the membership in the same way the word “troop” applies in other branches of scouting.  

Supporters have rallied to his cause, with one parent providing his family’s residence as collateral for the accused scoutmaster’s bail, which had been reduced to $190,000. 

Deputy District Attorney Mark McCannon said nothing in Evans’ bail conditions prevents him from meeting with the scouts and parents who are supporting him. 

“If that’s what the parents want to do, it’s within their right to do so,” said the prosecutor who represented the county in Friday’s Superior Court hearing in Oakland. 

The only conditions imposed on Evans Friday were the same two which all bail recipients must meet, McCannon said, “obey all laws and don’t commit any criminal offense.” 

Criminal charges include lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, oral copulation with a minor under age 16, sexual penetration by an object of a youth under age 14, and 18 counts of commission of a sex crime on a youth of 14 or 15 by an adult at least 10 years older. 

While the search warrants and the sworn statements from investigators used to obtain the warrants were sealed at the request of Berkeley Police, department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said that evidence obtained from the computer in the Evans home confirms the charges. 

Department Public Information Officer Lt. Wesley Hester said Monday that detectives have been receiving calls from community members offering information and asking questions about the case. 

Investigators believe there may be additional victims, he said, asking anyone with information to call the departments Youth Services Detail at (510) 981-5715. 

“We want to hear from anyone who may have been a victim or who has knowledge about anyone who may have been a victim,” he said. “They may remain anonymous if they chose.” 

Evans is a retired teacher who taught in Alameda at the Alameda and Encinal high schools. He joined the Sea Scouts in Berkeley 50 years ago and has been active in the movement ever since. 

Prior to his arrest, he was best known in Berkeley for filing the ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit which changed the 1997 City Council decision to end the free lease the city had given the Farallon at the Berkeley Marina. 

The denial was based on the national scouting movement’s refusal to accept gays, a violation of the city’s policies of granting benefits only to groups which do not discriminate against homosexuals. 

Evans, joined by scoutmasters, took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to reconsider an unanimous California Supreme Court decision which upheld the city’s position. 

His next court appearance will be at 2 p.m. Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland, said Lt. Hester. 

Westberg said that in addition to the 18 members of the Berkeley Sea Scouts program, Evans has also been a leader in a larger program based in Alameda, which has about 40 members. 

Parents of members of both groups will be invited to the meeting he is working to establish with his counterpart at the Alameda Council, Westberg said. 

Under BSA regulations, Westberg said, Evans has a right to appeal his dismissal, which was outlined in the letter that severed his relationship with the BSA.