• Former Memphis Boy Scout troop leader facing several sexual battery charges against children

    By: Jeremy Pierre


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A former Memphis Boy Scout troop leader is currently in a Virginia jail facing several sexual battery charges against children.

    Robert Sypole is also facing charges of child molestation in Seattle, Washington.

    Sypole is facing four rape charges in Richmond, Virginia.

    FOX13’s Jeremy Pierre spoke to his stepmother, Laurie Sypole, who is in Seattle.          

    "He lived in Memphis with his mother and stepfather and would visit in the summer here in Washington from the time he was two,” Laurie said.

    Laurie said she learned Robert raped two boys after her youngest son, Garret, committed suicide in 2017.

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    She said she immediately got the police involved and informed the Boy Scout Troop at Covenant United Methodist Church.

    Sypole volunteered as a troop leader.

    The King County Sherriff’s Office in Seattle released a press release in January to give to parents who have children who have contacted Sypole.        

    "There is no way that if there is a pattern and it’s who this person is they are going to take a break,” Laurie said.

    The Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Memphis released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

    “This individual is not currently registered in our programs and has been prohibited from any future participation in Scouting."

    Covenant United Methodist church also released a statement regarding Sypole’s charges.

    “When we receive any such information that alleges child abuse, we report it to the Tennessee Department of Child Services and will fully cooperate with TN-DCS and any proper authorities."

    The church’s pastor confirmed Sypole volunteered with the troop but did not attend the church. 

    "My thought was, what this does to children who then become adults is so damaging it could kill them?” Laurie said.

    A spokesperson with Memphis police told FOX13 no victims have come forward as of yet.

    In Virginia and Seattle, both cases are ongoing.

    Below is the full statement sent by the Boy Scouts of America regarding Sypole's charges:

    “The behavior described in these allegations is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. This individual is not currently registered in our programs and has been prohibited from any future participation in Scouting.

    Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. Many years ago, we adopted some of the strongest barriers to child abuse that will be found in any youth serving organization, and we take the responsibility to uphold those barriers seriously.

    The BSA strives to prevent child abuse through a comprehensive program, which includes as safeguards:

    • Ongoing mandatory youth protection education for all volunteers, parents, and Scouts; 
    • A formal leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts; 
    • Policies and procedures to serve as barriers to abuse, such as mandating two-deep leadership and prohibiting one-on-one situations where adults would interact with children – either in-person, online, or via text; 
    • Prompt mandatory reporting to the authorities of any allegation or suspicion of abuse; and, 
    • Database system that is recommended by experts to prevent individuals from reregistering in Scouting who were removed because they do not meet the BSA’s standards or because of known or suspected abuse or other misconduct, either inside or outside the organization.

    The BSA also offers unlimited counseling with a provider of their choice to any youth member, former youth member, or the family of any youth member who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting. The BSA has a toll-free helpline (1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) for these sensitive matters.”

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