Berkeley Sea Scouts leader Eugene Evans was convicted of two counts of child molestation Monday and is expected to spend six years in prison under a plea deal with the Alameda County district attorney’s office.
Evans, who was in the news a few years ago for suing the City of Berkeley after it denied the Sea Scouts a free dock at the Marina because of its parent group’s ban on gays and atheists, pleaded no contest to the two charges Monday.
According to authorities, Evans will also have to register as a sexual offender under the state’s Sex Offender Registration Act and pay up to $10,000 in compensation to the victims.
Under the plea deal numerous other counts of child molestation and showing of pornography to minors were dropped.
Evans, 64, remains free under a $500,000 bail until he is sentenced on Sept. 14.
Berkeley Police arrested Evans on six counts of sexual abuse in December, including lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Andrew Frankel told the Planet.
The Alameda County district attorney’s office added more sexual abuse counts later, charging him with ongoing acts with four youths, Frankel said.
His victims’ ages ranged between 13 and 17, authorities said, and the crimes were reportedly carried out on the S.S.S. Farallon, the troop’s ship, after scout meetings.
Evans was rearrested in May when additional victims surfaced and pornographic material was found on his boat. Evans was charged with molesting three minors and exposing four others to pornographic material.
Calls to Phil Schnayerson, Evans’ attorney, were not returned by press time.
In 2006, Evans defended the Berkeley Sea Scouts’ right to a free berth at the Marina arguing the city was punishing the group for something that wasn’t its fault. The Sea Scouts are bound to the policies of their parent body, the Boy Scouts of America, which mandates that gays and atheists be excluded from the organization.
Although the city had allowed the Sea Scouts free berth space since the 1930s, its subsidy was revoked after the city adopted a nondiscrimination policy for marina use in 1997.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the case, Evans v. City of Berkeley, in October 2006, allowed Berkeley to treat the Sea Scouts differently from other non-profits because of its ban on atheists and gays.
Evans kept denying charges of sexual abuse made against him from the first day until his court appearance Monday.
Although a steady flow of supporters had turned up in court to defend him on previous appearances, only one supporter sat next to Evans before he pleaded guilty to the two counts Monday.
Evans, who served as skipper of the Berkeley Boy Scouts for 35 years, was also a former teacher at Encinal High School in Alameda.
A group of former sea scouts is continuing with the program at the marina.
Jeri Morgado, president of the Alameda Council Boy Scouts, said the council took immediate steps to permanently remove Evans from the scouting program when they found out about the initial charges in December.
“The safety of our youth is our highest priority,” she said.
Erik Coker, executive officer of the Farallon’s corporate board, declined to comment on Evan’s conviction.
Coker said Mischa Block, a Berkeley resident, had taken over as skipper when the news about Evans’ charges broke in December.
“As soon as the allegations came out, Evans separated himself from the ship,” Block said.
He added a group of former sea scout members had come forward to help with the ship’s operations once Evans left the ship.
“Gene was not able to be here, so a lot of the crew got together and kept the show going,” he said. “We are not missing a beat. We are just moving forward.”
The boy scouts recently returned from a summer cruise, Coker said, adding that despite the loss of the free berth, the group was doing fine.