Former Boy Scouts leader indicted on child pornography charges

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Updated: Wednesday, November 6, 3:25 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A grand jury returned an indictment that charges 79-year-old Milton Forsberg of Champaign with trafficking child pornography; one count each of receipt and possession of child pornography.

He was previously arrested and charged for a criminal complaint on October 16, 2019 and appeared in court on October 21.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long ordered that Forsberg remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Forsberg has been active in a local amateur radio club and had been involved with Boy Scouts for more than 40 years.

Champaign Police began investigating in February 2019 when a cyber tip was reported that suspected child pornography was found through an online account. Several images of teenagers were uploaded from a user account that was traced back to Forsberg. That’s just the start of the disturbing accusations against him.

On September 26th, police received a formal letter from the Boy Scouts of America National Council with a mandated notification of abuse. It stated someone claimed Forsberg had abused them in Champaign in 1965, during the time when he would have been a troop leader. The next day police got a warrant to search his house.

At the foot of his bed they found sexually explicit pictures of young boys.
They say Forsberg tried to hide the photos with his cane while officers continued their search. Police say Forsberg denied any sexual attraction to minors or any inappropriate contact with them. When officials asked him about the photos they found in his house, he told them he printed one of them because he though it was funny. Police also say he told them he did not intentionally look at images of underage boys.

During the investigation, police discovered search history of websites linked to child porn and more than 100 images that had been downloaded.
Investigators also found a photography dark room in Forsberg’s basement with boxes of photos that he admitted he took at a nudist colony. He told officials he took the pictures under a press pass from the Champaign News Gazette. The images included adults and children.

If Forsberg is found guilty, the maximum penalty for receiving child pornography is 20 years in prison. Possession of child pornography is a maximum of 10 years. Each count also includes a fine of up to $250,000.

Original: Tuesday, October 22, 6:11 a.m.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A former longtime Boy Scout troop leader is charged with child porn crimes, and one of the program’s leaders helped police arrest him.

Milton Forsberg had been involved with the Boy Scouts for decades. In a sworn statement, a Champaign police sergeant says Forsberg uploaded explicit pictures of underage boys to the internet. A search of his house uncovered more pictures, and a dark room with photographs he took of young girls.

The van in Forsberg’s driveway has a license plate with his ham radio call sign, a hobby police say he shared with Boy Scout troops so they could earn merit badges.

Milton Forsberg’s Champaign house.

“Anyone who would take advantage of our youth and use this program to take advantage of youth is just reprehensible,” says BSA Prairielands Council CEO Jared White, “As soon as we found out about it, we removed him, made sure he could no longer be involved in any scouting activities.”

Last month, White says he got a letter from the national council saying they were contacted by the lawyer representing a man who claims Forsberg abused him when he was 13 years old. That was in 1965, when Forsberg would have been a troop leader.

After he got the letter, White notified the police, who then got a warrant to search Forsberg’s house.

BSA Prairielands Council CEO Jared White.

Forsberg’s neighbors say he lived alone and kept to himself, except for his involvement in the ham radio community. He’s listed as the current treasurer of the Twin City Amateur Radio Club on their website.

White says Forsberg’s troop disbanded in the 1990s, and his work through the radio organization was his only involvement with the Boy Scouts since then.

“We have a lot of organizations that volunteer and do that sort of thing,” White says, “Say, hey, we want to put on a merit badge seminar. We make sure it follows the Youth Protection Guidelines.”

White says everyone involved with the Scouts has to take a one-hour training course on their Youth Protection Guidelines. He wants parents to know t keep a close watch on everyone their kids get close to.

The web page for BSA’s Youth Protection Guidelines.

“Scouting is still safe,” he says, “Scouting is still a very good organization for your son or your daughter. We do our best to be able to make sure that our kids are safe. That’s why we have our youth protection policies in place. That’s why we do the background checks.”

A federal judge ordered Forsberg to be held until his trial. The Twin City Amateur Radio Club didn’t respond to our request for a statement.

You can read more in the full criminal complaint below:

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