Former camp director convicted
NILES — A former camp director for the Boy Scouts of America who sexually abused a 13-year-old habitually in the 1980s will serve time in jail after years of the victim advocating for justice.
Roland “William” Chabot, 70, formerly of Homewood, Illinois and currently living in Florida, pleaded no contest to attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Judge Charles LaSata ordered Chabot to serve 60 days in the Berrien County Jail and two years of probation for the crime. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
According to court documents, the crime occurred at a Boy Scout Camp near Berrien Springs between June 1, 1986 and Oct. 1, 1987. At the time, Chabot was serving as a camp director with the Boy Scouts of America. Chabot’s victim, then 13, was abused by Chabot on numerous occasions.
LaSata said the victim first reported the crime in 1992, but no action was taken. In 2011, the Boy Scouts changed how they reported incidents like this, but it was not until 2013, when law enforcement got involved with this particular case, that the crime was addressed. The Michigan State Police Niles post helped to investigate the case.
While the victim was not present in court, he did write two letters discussing the impact of Chabot’s abuse. Assistant prosecuting attorney Jerry Vigansky said the statements were some of the most eloquent he has ever read.
Chabot was represented in court by defense attorney Tat Parish, who told those in the courtroom Monday that his client was an educated man and former officer of the Army, with no other convictions on his record. Parish said Chabot had friends from all over the country who were present in the courtroom that morning to show Chabot their support.
Chabot also said that the court’s recommendation for jail time was a “heavy punishment for a man of outstanding background.” According to two letters written by the victim, Parish said he interpreted that the victim would be content with Chabot registering as a sex offender in the states of Michigan and Florida as punishment.
“He [the victim] does indicate that he is satisfied [with sex offender registration],” Parish said. “… There is nothing to be gained by jail time. He has already served 22 days. … He has already been punished and will be for the rest of his life.”
Parish also mentioned that Chabot and his wife were in poor health. Parish said these points emphasized reasons to not send his client to jail.
When it was Chabot’s turn to speak, he said only that he wished for the opportunity to continue caring for his wife.
Referring to the two letters written by the victim, LaSata said the victim had clearly expressed just how damaging Chabot’s abuse had been.
LaSata read from the victim’s letter to emphasize the victim’s call for justice.
“I do not desire vengeance, but I do desire justice. Not for my sake, however, but for the sake of society and the sake of my abuser. As for society … others must be warned,” the victim stated.
The letter went on to say that the victim “was satisfied” with Chabot registering as a sex offender, but LaSata said he felt that statement was in addition to Chabot serving time in the criminal justice system.
“I do hear the victim’s voice calling for justice,” Chabot said. “I understand that your client is an educated man and I understand that he has skills that were sought after, as an IT manager. I think that flows into the sophistication that victim articulated … and his difficulty in life going forward.”