Scott LePore was a gung-ho 14-year-old Boy Scout in 1980 when he was assigned to share a tent with 28-year-old Dennis Mischler during counselor training at Camp Salmen in Mississippi, the now 51-year-old LePore told a jury Wednesday in 22nd Judicial District Court in Covington.
LePore, who had achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at 13, said he had been happy to bunk with the popular Scout leader who organized skits and other entertainment at the camp. He even asked Mischler's advice about girls.
But after the lights went out, LePore testified, Mischler took the boy's hand and put it on the man's penis, not once but three times, finally feigning sleep when the boy rebuffed him forcefully.
LePore took the stand on the second day of Mischler's trial on charges of oral sexual battery, molestation of a juvenile and possession of child pornography. He said his family went to authorities after the incident, but the district attorney in Mississippi refused charges after a preliminary hearing.
LePore, who now lives in Florida, said the Boy Scouts of America asked him not to press charges and said that, in turn, Mischler would be banned from Scouting for life. However, Mischler, who was arrested in 2014, continued to serve as a Scout leader. He also was a teacher and administrator in Orleans Parish schools.
LePore's sometimes emotional testimony followed that of a stoic 25-year-old man whom Mischler is charged with molesting when he was a child.
That witness told the jury that Mischler, who is a relative, first victimized him when he was about 11 and living at Mischler's home in New Orleans because his own father had gotten into trouble with the law. He said he was showering when Mischler came into the bathroom and said he wasn't yet clean. He testified that the man soaped up his hands and washed his private parts.
A few years later, he told the jury, Mischler performed oral sex on him in a FEMA trailer in Slidell, stopping when a friend of the boy arrived back from buying candy.
On another occasion, he testified, Mischler took him to a hotel in Mandeville where the boy went swimming. On returning to their room, he said, Mischler performed oral sex on him and then attempted to perform anal sex, but the boy fought him off.
The witness said he never told anyone about the abuse, noting that the first time he admitted it was when law enforcement officials interviewed him in prison, where he was serving time on a drug charge.
"Do you want to be here today?" Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims asked. "No, sir," the witness replied, saying that he knew his testimony would upset his grandmother. "I don't want her to hate me," he said.
He said he agreed to testify because Mischler was trying to pin the blame for his collection of child pornography on the younger man's brother.
"I didn't want my brother to be blamed for something he didn't do. So here I am," the witness said.
Earlier Wednesday, the jury heard from Allyson Hoffine, an agent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which investigated the shipping of child pornography from a Canadian company to customers in the United States.
Hoffine testified she and a team of investigators executed a search warrant on Mischler's home on OK Lane on May 29, 2014, and found child pornography.
She said investigators found two thumb drives in Mischler's bedroom that had about 5,000 images of young boys and 26 videos. The earliest images dated back a little over five years, but others had been put on the thumb drives days earlier.
Prosecutors showed part of a movie that showed a young boy in sexual situations and then projected 54 images recovered from the thumb drives, showing the jury image after image of nude, prepubescent boys including some that showed sexual acts.
The defendant kept his eyes averted from the screen, at one point audibly saying to his attorney, "I can't watch this."
During the search of the home, Hoffine testified, Mischler initially answered questions and said the pornography belonged to a family member who was in jail. But then he invoked his right to remain silent.
Investigators interviewed the family member, who provided them with other names, including that of the alleged victim.