Detroit — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Wednesday said a New York man is the first person charged in connection with her investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of Michigan residents involved in the Boy Scouts of America.
Mark Chapman, 51, is charged in Macomb County District Court with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two alleged victims, Nessel said at a news conference at the Cadillac Place in Midtown.
Nessel’s office said at a news conference that at the time of the alleged incidents more than 20 years ago, Chapman was involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Roseville and the Boy Scouts.
Chapman, who is married, was an employee and scout leader at the church, although he was not a religious leader, Nessel said. He held janitorial-type jobs at the church, Nessel’s office said.
Calls to the Roseville Church of the Latter-Day Saints were not immediately returned.
Chapman has been incarcerated in a New York state correctional facility since 2013 for a conviction on a charge of third-degree criminal sexual act, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Nessel’s office.
Nessel’s office said Chapman was eligible for parole beginning Wednesday from the Mohawk Correctional in Rome, New York, and was charged so he cannot leave the criminal justice system, Nessel told the Associated Press.
“We are working on the extradition process but it is just beginning,” said Lynsey Mukomel, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office.
One case, in which Chapman is charged with both first-degree criminal sexual assault counts and two of the second-degree charges, involved a male family member who was about 11 years old when the alleged abuse began, Nessel’s office said, adding that the abuse went on for years “and often revolved around times that were designated as special opportunities for Chapman to spend time with the boy.”
Another case, in which Chapman faces six of the second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, is in connection with “alleged abuse that began in 2000 around the time the alleged male victim was 13 or 14 and continued until he was 17 years old and a senior in high school,” Nessel’s office said.
The alleged assaults took place at the alleged victim’s father’s home, at Chapman’s residence and at the church.
Nessel said he “used his status as a member of the faith community” to establish trust with the boys.
Both cases resulted from a single phone call to the tip line set up last year in a joint investigation by Nessel’s office and Michigan State Police.
Nessel said her office is a “safe haven” for victims of sexual assault and that she will use her office’s investigative resources, which also include victims’ advocates, to hold perpetrators accountable.
“We take sexual assaults very seriously,” said Nessel during the news conference. “This is not a joke. These are people’s lives.”
There is no statute of limitations on first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan. However, Chapman left Michigan and moved to New York in 2007, Nessel’s office said, meaning any clock on the statute of limitations stopped that year.
Chapman is expected to face possible extradition as soon as Wednesday. He faces up to life in prison.
Nessel’s office said staff is examining about 5,000 claims sent from the Boy Scouts of America national organization for review. The review of 550 claims have been completed and about 60 have been sent to State Police for further investigation.
Nessel launched the joint investigation last June after abuse allegations came to light during civil litigation.
Both agencies asked the public last year to report alleged instances of abuse that would assist in the joint investigation.
Nessel said in July that her office had learned that 1,700 sex abuse claims filed against the BSA were from Michigan residents. She said her office believed that there could be as many as 3,000 abuse victims in the state.
The team of investigators to the BSA probe included prosecutors, special agents and victim advocates from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, and a confidential tip line was set up to gather anonymous tips. Tips can be called into 844-324-3374.
The Boy Scouts last month reached a tentative settlement with a bankruptcy committee representing more than 80,000 men who say they were molested as children by Scout leaders and others. All told, the compensation fund would total more than $2.6 billion, which would be the largest aggregate sex abuse settlement in U.S. history.
Associated Press contributed.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism