A Western New York Boy Scout leader is facing sex abuse charges.
Ronald Rowcliffe, 55, of Elba, is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.
New York State Police said the arrest follows several reports of abuse. Rowcliffe is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with several victims between 12 and 14-years-old who attended the Massawepie Boy Scout Camp in the Adirondacks.
The alleged abuse happened during the summers of 2017-2019.
State Police said many of the alleged victims are from the Greater Rochester area. In court documents, young boys accuse Rowcliffe of touching their genitals as he instructed them on the proper stance to shoot a rifle. They also claim Rowcliffe touched them multiple times, and allegedly abused other scouts.
"The victims who have come forward have predominately been from the Rochester area. However, due to the fact that the camp here in North Country sees various boy scout troops from all over New York state, the potential for more victims is there," New York State Police Information Officer (Troop B) Jennifer Sleishman said.
Seneca Waterways Council CEO Stephen Hoitt confirmed scouts reported the abuse early in the summer camp season. He said the employee was then fired, barred from further participation in the program and the incident was turned over to investigators.
"Summer camp staff must complete youth protection training and go through criminal background checks annually," Hoitt said in a statement. "As part of the Boy Scouts off America’s Youth Protection Training, adults may not be one on one with any youth at any time, and Scouts learn that if something makes them feel uncomfortable they should come forward."
Rowcliffe is being held in St. Lawrence County Jail.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and further charges are pending.
Rowcliffe is a former Holley police officer who was previously the focus of other investigations.
In August 2000, Spectrum News reported that police charged Rowcliffe with endangering the welfare of a child. Police say he gave two boys haircuts at his home and allowed the boys to view pornography on the internet. A year later, he was formally dismissed from his position with the Holley Police Department.
He's also a former Brockport Central School District bus driver. The district said he worked from 2014 to 2017.
"While we have no reason to believe student safety was compromised during Rowcliffe’s employment, we reported his employment with our district to the police and will fully cooperate with law enforcement during any investigation," the district said in a letter to parents.
Anyone with information or who believes they may be a victim can call New York State Police at (518) 873-2750.