Officials speak on Boy Scout chaperone accused of placing hidden cameras in bathrooms at summer camp


St. FRANCOIS COUNTY, Mo. – FOX 2 has new information about a Boy Scouts volunteer accused of putting hidden cameras in showers at a haven for St. Louis area scouts.

Camp Gamble is part of the S-Bar-F Scout Ranch in St. Francois County, about 80 miles south of St. Louis. It draws thousands of boys and girls every year.         

Fox 2 News has learned that concerns about the suspect may extend far beyond our area. 

Excitement for scouts builds along the drive to Camp Gamble, as they pass totem poles from scout troops through the years dotting the roadside.  

Investigators, troop leaders, and parents say that makes this case more sickening.  

“Cameras were discovered in two of the shower rooms in the camp,” said Det. Sgt. Greg Adams, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department.   

”The cameras were discovered by parties who were there camping, who were assigned a bathroom shower stall cleaning detail.” 

That was Friday. There were nearly 20 St. Louis area troops at the ranch at the time, according to investigators.   

David Lee Nelson, 39, was a volunteer chaperone for the of the troops and put the cameras there, investigators said. He now faces 15 felony counts of invasion of privacy and promoting child pornography.  

He remains in the county jail Wednesday night on a $500,000 bond. The camp remains open.    

A troop leader told Fox 2 News he had no concerns bringing scouts there. He commended camp staff for quickly finding the cameras and tracing the alleged crime to Nelson.   

The Boy Scouts of America’s Greater St. Louis Area Council has released a statement saying:   

“The Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America places the safety and well-being of our Scouts, volunteers, and their families as our top priority. We are saddened, disturbed, and angered by this incident as it runs counter to everything we stand for at the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.  

“We commend the volunteer leaders who made the discovery of the devices and took immediate action by following established protocols that are part of the Youth Protection Training required by the Boy Scouts of America for all adults involved with children. 

“The Council is grateful for their quick work which led to the identity and the eventual arrest of the perpetrator.” 

The BSA has some of the most robust youth protection policies which are informed by respected experts in the fields of child safety, law enforcement, and child psychology. Youth protection training is mandatory for all volunteers and employees.

To find out more about the BSA barriers of abuse, visit the organization’s website.  

Despite the barriers of abuse, these events remind us all how important it is to be ever vigilant when it comes to the safety of our children and the evolution of technology everywhere. 

The council is cooperating fully with authorities on every level. As this is an ongoing investigation, please direct further questions to local law enforcement by contacting Det. Sgt. Greg Adams, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, 573-756-3252 Ext. 213.  

“I think the Boy Scouts do a good job of a vetting process, but I don’t believe any process is foolproof and any time you could have a subject that has ill intentions and who wants to victimize people; not just the Boy Scouts, but any other organization,” Adams said.  

There are at least six known victims, so far: male, female, adult, and minor, he said.   

Investigators are asking parents and volunteers to call or email to help find three minor, male, victims whose identities are still unknown.  

“If you believe that your child was there and could possibly be a victim, we’re working diligently to identify the 3 unknown male victims as this time,” Adams said.   

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