Former Austin-area Scout leader headed to prison

Martin Turner
Martin Turner

AUSTIN (AP) A former Boy Scout leader accused of molesting as many as 12 preteen boys has been sentenced to five years in prison in a case involving three brothers.

State District Judge Melissa Goodwin also sentenced 64-year-old Martin Turner to 10 years of deferred adjudication, a form of probation, on one of the charges. From the time he is released from prison until 2018, Turner must report to a probation officer, stay away from children and undergo counseling, among other conditions.

Turner, who has been free on bail since his 2006 arrest, apologized to ''everyone who is in this courtroom ... for the pain that I have caused'' before his sentenced was announced Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The allegations of abuse by Turner span more than 30 years.

Turner, who was removed as a Boy Scout leader in the Austin suburb of West Lake Hills after his arrest, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of indecency with a child and one count of attempted indecency with a child for molesting two brothers and trying to molest a third.

After the sentence was announced, the oldest of Turner's known accusers took the stand before a packed courtroom.

''Martin took away from me my dignity and my self-esteem,'' said 41-year-old Sam Meacham, who agreed to let his name be published after testifying. The Associated Press normally does not publish the names of sexual assault victims.

Meacham said Turner put ''his hand in my pants'' several times in 1978 ''in his home, on his couch.''

Meacham and two other men testified during the sentencing phase that they were abused. They said their crimes were too old to prosecute.

The parents of the three brothers reported the suspected abuse to West Lake Hills police, leading to Turner's arrest.

One of their sons testified that Turner molested him at Turner's house, where he did work to earn spending money. That victim said Turner touched him numerous times, including in a shower and a hot tub. His brothers had similar stories about Turner.

According to court documents, another man said Turner molested him while they were driving to a Boy Scout canoe trip.

Prosecutor Rob Drummond said Turner admitted to a therapist that he had molested a dozen boys. The boys were all about 10 or 11 at the time, prosecutors said.

The Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council said in a statement it was pleased that Turner was headed to prison.

The council said that since 2003, background checks have been conducted on potential leaders and that leaders are not permitted to be alone with boys.