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Home » California man charged with sexually abusing boys had long association with Juneau bible camp

California man charged with sexually abusing boys had long association with Juneau bible camp

by Eli Barker
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A California man who was indicted last month on federal sexual abuse charges had a decades-long association with Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp. Bradley Earl Reger, 67, volunteered at the camp as a nurse and counselor starting in the 1970s.

The charging documents allege that Reger abused more than a dozen boys and young men, often under the guise of medical care and often during camping trips or church activities. But federal investigators believe he could have hundreds of victims, the Sacramento Bee reported in July.

In an interview Tuesday, former Juneau resident Troy Wilson told KTOO that he is one of them — that Reger befriended Wilson at Echo Ranch when he was a child and first abused him during a trip to California.

“He’s a monster. And now that I hear about the things that he’s done to other kids and other people, the stories are identical,” Wilson said. “I hope that my story and statement helps those people someday.” 

‘Sexual abuse in the guise of medical treatment’

A federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted Reger last month on charges of “illicit sexual activity abroad, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and coercion and enticement.” Reger lives in Susanville, California, where he’s owned a series of medical services companies.

According to the criminal complaint, Reger “enticed and induced multiple victims to travel out of California on camping trips or church-affiliated missions, where he would conduct unlawful sexual abuse in the guise of medical treatment.” 

The complaint says that some of the abuse took place during camping trips in Alaska, though it’s not clear where.

Reger pleaded not guilty to the charges on July 21. Investigators are still looking for other possible victims who have not come forward yet. 

Reger’s presence in Juneau dates back to the 70s

Avant Ministries, the parent organization of Echo Ranch Bible Camp, said in a statement that Reger was never employed by the camp, but that Reger volunteered there “in the 1970’s and sporadically over years that followed.”

A history of the camp written for its 50th anniversary in 2014 includes several references to Reger. It says he was a counselor there beginning in the early 70s and that, decades later, he donated an ambulance to the camp.

Reger, it says, “volunteered as a boy’s counselor for several years. He had not been to nursing school or become an EMT yet. But Brad saw the need for better medical equipment and trained medical staff, so he got his medical training and has been a big help.”

Avant’s statement says the organization is “grieved by the reports about sexual abuse by Bradley Reger and grieve for any and all children harmed” and that Reger can no longer be affiliated with Avant services or set foot on Avant property.

‘He was a friend – I was looking for help’

Troy Wilson is a familiar name in Juneau — he worked for the Juneau Police for nearly two decades, left the force, and then went to prison more than a decade ago after shooting at police during a mental health crisis.

Wilson said the standoff happened at a time when he was working to confront the trauma of Reger’s abuse. 

Wilson said he met Reger when he was a child in the late 1970s and his parents worked at Echo Ranch. His parents trusted Reger. So when Reger invited Wilson, then 12, and two other boys to go to California, Wilson’s parents said yes. They thought it was a chance for Wilson to go on a fun road trip and go to amusement parks, which his parents couldn’t afford to pay for themselves. 

“Now looking back, you know, he was grooming my parents and grooming us kids,” Wilson said. 

It was on that trip that Reger first assaulted Wilson, under the guise of checking for ticks, Wilson said. At the time, Wilson didn’t understand what had happened to him. 

“As time went on, we went back to Echo Ranch. Nothing ever came up — never said anything,” Wilson said.

Then, when Wilson was 18, he worked for and lived with Reger for a year in Susanville. He saw it as an opportunity to get into a career in emergency medical services. 

When Wilson started suffering from severe back pain, Reger offered to examine him. Instead, Wilson said, Reger assaulted him again under the guise of medical attention. 

“He was a nurse,” Wilson said. “I trusted him. He was a friend — I was looking for help.”

After the second assault, Wilson said he didn’t feel he could do anything about it and didn’t report it to police. 

But other people did report Reger — the criminal complaint says Reger was investigated at least as early as 1986, and that Susanville police investigations in 2003, 2006 and 2007 involving multiple victims did not result in criminal charges.

No known abuse at Echo Ranch

Echo Ranch Bible Camp Director Randy Alderfer said that Reger volunteered there before his time, and he didn’t know him.

In Avant’s statement, the organization said the crimes Reger is charged with “do not involve any of Avant’s domestic or international ministry locations”, but that the organization would “seek to respond responsibly and compassionately” if that changes.

Wilson stresses that Reger did not abuse him at Echo Ranch, and he doesn’t know if Reger abused anyone else there either. Rather, Wilson said he thinks Reger used places like the camp to befriend families and gain access to children.

“That’s what he does,” Wilson said. “It’s like Echo Ranch was a mechanism that introduced him to our family.”

Wilson, who now lives in Washington state, said that after he served his prison sentence, he started going to therapy to deal with his trauma. 

“I’ve had nightmares since I was in prison about him,” he said.

Wilson said that he hopes by sharing his story, it might make it easier for other victims to come forward. 

Source: KTOO

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