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Thursday, September 3, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Scout Chief Sentenced To 28 Years For Abuse -- Seven Girls And Boy Raped Or Molested

A Rainier Valley man who used his position as a Girl Scout leader to rape or molest seven young girls and a boy has been sentenced to 28 years in prison.

King County Superior Court Judge Warren Chan yesterday meted the exceptional sentence - twice the top of the standard range - after concluding John Babcock not only used his position of trust as a scout leader but also manipulated his own children to recruit and influence his victims.

20 counts of abuse

Babcock, 41, was convicted a few months ago of 20 counts of sexual abuse crimes ranging from first-degree statutory rape to indecent liberties from 1986 to 1988.

The conviction and long sentence gave former Seattle Police Officer Leland Gayles, whose pursuit of Babcock four years ago at least indirectly led to his firing this May, a measure of vindication.

"It's about time," said Gayles when he heard the verdict. "Everybody knew for a long time they were molesting those kids."

Gayles will appeal his termination at a Civil Service Commission hearing later this month and said he may sue the police department and mayor's office over his dismissal and the delay in bringing Babcock to justice.

Two years ago, Babcock obtained a court order barring Gayles from investigating him further.

Gayles then went through a series of internal investigations and complaints about his continued involvement in the case.

Gayles said he did so because the department's special assault unit didn't work hard enough to satisfy parents.

Prosecutors were able to prove that Babcock, a locksmith, committed the acts from 1986 to 1988.

His victims testified that he lured them into "truth or dare," "strip poker" and other games culminating in nudity and sexual acts.

He also, according to testimony, had two of his scouts fondle him while on a field trip to his key shop.

One of the victims urged Chan yesterday to prevent Babcock from being around youths.

"I'm scared that things might happen to me after all this is over. I would want Mr. Babcock to at least not be around children and get some kind of treatment so this doesn't happen anymore," the girl said in a tearful and halting voice.

Babcock looked away when the girl stood up and spoke. He declined to address Chan at sentencing but likely will file a motion for a new trial based on evidence ruled inadmissible at trial and what he called ineffective counsel.

Chan agreed with Deputy Prosecutor Robin Fox, who said Babcock deserved a severe sentence because he abused his leadership position as scout leader and manipulated his own children to try to prevent victims from testifying.

Friend protests

Babcock's friend, Ava King, asked Chan to impose the lightest sentence possible.

"The man has already lost his family," said King. "What else is there to lose? That's quite cruel in itself."

Babcock's three children were placed in a foster home when he was arrested in January.

If Babcock does not win a new trial, he will serve at least 24 years in prison and then be subject to community placement, counseling and other conditions.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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