BROCKPORT — A man accused of sexually abusing teenage boys at a well-known Boy Scout camp in the Adirondacks has a history of inappropriate sexual contact with teenagers.
Ronald Rowcliffe of Elba was the Scoutmaster in Brockport and a shotgun instructor at Camp Massawepie. He was charged last week with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count each of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.
Court paperwork and depositions from victims say under the pretense of adjusting the boys’ shooting stances, Rowcliffe placed his open hand over their private areas, cradling them and moving their hips. Investigators believe the abuse happened to multiple boys who attended the camp over the course of the three summers Rowcliffe worked as the shotgun range director from 2017 to 2019.
Camp Massawepie is owned by the Seneca Waterways Council. On Friday, the CEO said he fired Rowcliffe as soon as scouts started making the allegations and immediately contacted State Police.
Newspaper archives show that back in 1988, following accusations of inappropriate behavior with a teenage boy, Ronald Rowcliffe resigned as a police officer in the Village of Holley. In that case, the teen’s parents refused to prosecute. Rowcliffe then became a police officer in the Village of Scottsville until the department disbanded in 1995. Rowcliffe was then hired back in the Village of Holley where he was a police officer, a codes enforcement officer and a member of the volunteer fire department.
In 2000, as a firefighter, Rowcliffe met three teenage boys who were part of the Fire Explorers problem. Investigators told News10NBC at the time that he invited the boys to his apartment, had them strip naked and gave them haircuts. He was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
So, why didn’t the Boy Scouts or the Brockport school district, where Rowcliffe was a school bus driver, know about his past when they hired him to work with children?
It turns out Rowcliffe took a plea deal to the charges back in 2000 that shielded him from having a criminal record.
The Genesee County ADA who was brought in as a special prosecutor at the time said the charges of endangering the welfare of a child were dropped when Rowcliffe agreed to an evaluation, counseling and pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of illegally discharging pepper spray in the back of his police car.
After that, according to his family members, Rowcliffe worked as a private investigator for a while before becoming a school bus driver in Brockport from 2014-2017 and then the shotgun range director at Camp Massawepie from 2017-2019.