Berkeley Sea Scouts Leader Gets 6 Years for Misconduct

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 18, 2008 - 09:22:00 AM

Eugene Evans, the Berkeley Sea Scouts leader convicted of two counts of child molestation in July, was sentenced to a total of six years in state prison by an Alameda County Superior Court judge on Tuesday. 

Judge Morris Jacobson ruled that Evans, 65, would be incarcerated for three years for each of two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with minors, in what prosecutors described as “an atmosphere of secrecy,” and ordered him to be registered as a sexual offender for the rest of his life under Penal Code 290. 

Tuesday’s sentencing should have brought to an end months of doubt by some members of the Berkeley Sea Scouts about the allegations and subsequent charges against Evans, since he admitted in open court that he had sexually abused minors for the last 30 years. 

About 20 supporters of Evans, mostly former and current members of the Berkeley Sea Scouts, along with family and friends of the victims, turned up at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland around 2 p.m. to hear the sentencing. Some of them wore T-shirts with the scout ship’s name, “Farallon.” 

Morrison said he had received 35 letters in support of Evans as well as letters from his victims, who had pressed for a more rigorous sentencing. 

Evans’ sentence was reduced to six years under a plea deal with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. 

Susan Torrence, the deputy district attorney prosecuting Evans, said the police had been alerted to the case “by a very brave young man who dared to make a phone call.” 

Police arrested Evans on six counts of sexual abuse in December, including lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14, authorities said. 

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office added more sexual abuse counts later, charging him with ongoing acts with four youths. 

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 came forward and pornographic material was found on his boat. Evans was charged with molesting three minors and exposing four others to pornographic material.  

At least 18 charges, including exposing minors to pornography, sexual penetration and continuous sexual abuse, were dropped. 

“He [Evans] was extremely devoted to the Sea Scouts,” said Phil Schnayerson, Evans’ attorney. “He got quite close to the boys in his program ... He does not lack accountability of his behavior. The accusations against him go back several years, and he recognizes the need for treatment.” 

Torrence said Evans’ supporters described him as “generous, loyal, a father figure and one of the most influential people in their life.” 

“I think those people’s perceptions are true and that’s why he’s getting a lower sentencing than he should,” she said. “There are many people at this point who feel he has not committed the crime he has been charged of committing.” 

Torrence read aloud from a letter by one of Evans’ supporters, who wrote: “I believe that justice would be served if my mentor is able to reclaim his name.” 

“These people have not read the police reports,” Torrence continued. “They have not talked to the victims. At his age it is not right to treat women as objects as they are portrayed in the voluminous amount of pornography that he displayed to all the men on the boat. It is apparent that his entire behavior is a model of secrets on the boat, that ‘what happened on the boat should stay on the boat.’ He created a system.” 

Torrence said that Evans picked on the most vulnerable of the Sea Scouts to keep his “ultimate secret.” 

She described in graphic detail how Evans interacted sexually with his victims, then called on him to speak about what he did in open court: “I would like him to admit that he did this and that the victims are not lying. I want him to tell these people shaking their heads that he is in fact guilty and that justice has been done and that people must struggle with the truth.” 

When Morrison asked Evans if he was guilty of the charges, Evans replied, “Yes, your honor.” 

Morrison read aloud from victims’ letters, one of whom called Evans “a vile and disturbing human being” who would crack homophobic jokes and make racial slurs on the boat.  

Torrence later told reporters that Evans’ homophobic jokes were a facade to persuade people that he was “not interested in same-sex behavior.” 

Another victim said that Gene had warned the scouts not to “snitch” and had told them that “what happened on the boat stayed on the boat.” 

“I became depressed and had epileptic seizures,” the young man wrote. “I feel he should serve more time because of the stress he inflicted on me from the sexual assaults.” 

The parents of another young victim recounted the pain and trauma their family had gone through because of Evans’ actions. 

“We believed he was an ethical and moral person and trusted him with our son,” they said in their letter. “He deceived us. We threw our son into the hands of a sexual predator. It is sick to think that he has got away with this for so many years. Please keep him away from children for as long as possible.” 

Outside the courtroom, Schnayerson, Evans’ attorney, told reporters that the judge had made the right decision. 

“For an enormous number of people he has done some important work,” he said, adding that Evans was a veteran of the Vietnam War and had taught at Encinal High School in Alameda for 32 years. “He’s a good guy, a good man. There were people who benefited from him and people who were damaged by his actions.” 

Evans sued the City of Berkeley some years ago after it denied the Sea Scouts a free dock at the Berkeley Marina because of its parent group’s ban on gays and atheists. 

When the scouts lost their case in the U.S. Supreme Court, Evans himself paid $500 every month to rent the berth. 

Erik Coker, executive officer of the Farallon’s corporate board, said a scandal-scarred Berkeley Sea Scouts was trying its best to move on. 

“I have faith in the justice system,” he said. “I am glad it’s over, and I hope everybody can go on with their life from here. I want everyone to know that even after today I would allow Gene with my children. That’s how much trust I have in him.” 

David Warren, the grandfather of a Berkeley Sea Scout, described the ruling as fair. “Justice was served,” he said.