NEWFIELDS — An ex-Scoutmaster being investigated for sexually assaulting a number of youths about two decades ago has been placed on leave from his job as a school bus driver.
An investigation into Eugene Perreault, 69, widened on Tuesday, a day after he was charged with the sexual assault of a Boy Scout in the 1990s. Police believe Perreault victimized a number of Scouts while serving as a Scoutmaster in Newfields and Epping from the mid-1990s to 2006.
But police are also focusing on speaking with those who may have had contact with Perreault in his role as a school bus driver for Safeway Training & Transportation Services in Kingston or even as a part-time town employee in Fremont and Newfields.
“We want to hear from anybody who had Mr. Perreault either as a Scoutmaster, or as a bus driver or knew him in any other manner — anything that anybody can tell us to help us with the investigation,” said Newfields police Lt. Michael Schwartz.
Perreault, of 369 Piscassic Road in Newfields, was arrested Monday on a single count of aggravated felonious sexual assault.
He remains free on bail.
Police began an investigation last week when a former Boy Scout reported being abused by Perreault.
In the wake of the investigation, Perreault was placed on leave from his job as a bus driver, according to Molly Hart, a spokesman for Safeway Training & Transportation Services.
“We are cooperating with the police as they investigate this matter,” Hart said in a statement. “The alleged incidents the local authorities are investigating occurred before the driver was employed by our company.”
Hart said all drivers undergo a thorough background check performed by New Hampshire State Police Pupil Transportation Division, and FBI fingerprinting.
“The check includes a motor vehicle background and criminal background, both of which did not provide any information preventing his employment,” Hart said.
Perreault was also removed from his post as Newfield’s health officer.
In Fremont, Town Administrator Heidi Carlson said no action will be taken against Perreault in his role as an on-call inspector for the town’s building department.
She said the town learned about the arrest Monday.
“No concern has ever been brought to us about his performance or conduct throughout the time we have known him or employed him,” Carlson said. “We will wait for the outcome of the matter prior to making any decisions.”
Donald Shepard, Scout executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts’ Daniel Webster Council, said in a statement on Monday that his organization is fully cooperating with the investigation.
The case unfolding against Perreault is not unique on a national level, according to Paul Mones, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who won a $19.9 million civil judgment against the Boy Scouts of America in 2010.
Mones represented eight Boy Scouts who were abused by the same Scoutmaster in Portland, Ore.
“You will see a lot of these cases do involve multiple victims,” said Mones, who spoke about cases generally. “It’s not unusual for child molesters to work in institutions of trust.”
Mones has represented former Boy Scouts in civil lawsuits filed in about 23 states. Often survivors of sexual abuse may not step forward until years later, he said.
“They blame themselves and fear coming forward. They think ‘Oh, it’s my fault,” said Mones. “I have had cases where clients had been interviewed by the police and initially they denied they were victims. That’s a big problem law enforcement has investigating these cases.”
Anyone with further information is asked to call the Newfields Police Department at (603) 772-9010.
To remain anonymous, people are being asked to call Seacoast Crime Stoppers at (603) 431-1199 or email seacoastcrimestoppers.org.
Union Leader Correspondent Jason Schreiber contributed to this report.