URBANA — At his arraignment Monday, a former longtime Boy Scout leader in the Champaign-Urbana area pleaded not guilty to trafficking in child pornography.
Milton Forsberg was indicted earlier this month on two counts, one for receiving and one for possessing child pornography.
When he was indicted, Champaign police also asked anyone who might have additional information about the 79-year-old man to contact them at 217-403-6900.
Forsberg, who listed an address on West Charles Street, was arrested Oct. 16, about two weeks after a court-authorized search of his home and computers by police turned up numerous photos of prepubescent boys. A magistrate judge ordered him held in jail.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, police found more than 100 images of underage boys. A review of Forsberg’s computer showed that he had more than 30 open tabs to a Russian website that is known to law enforcement as a site used to share images of child pornography.
Besides scouting, Forsberg has also long been active in a local amateur ham radio club.
In September, Champaign and Illinois State Police received a mandated notification of alleged abuse from the Boy Scouts of America National Council.
It reported that a California attorney represents a victim who alleges that Forsberg sexually abused him in Champaign in 1965 when the victim was 13.
If convicted of the charges, Forsberg faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson is prosecuting Forsberg. He is represented by Urbana attorneys Steve Beckett and Audrey Claire Thompson.
Jared White, head of the Boy Scouts' local Prairielands Council, said the organization has barred Forsberg from scouting.
"Upon learning of these claims, we took immediate action to involve law enforcement, and while this individual is no longer in Scouting, we barred him from any future participation in our programs," White said in a statement.
"We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. It is BSA policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement," he said.
Boy Scouts also conducts criminal background checks for its staff and other adult leaders, White said, and at least two adult leaders must be present with scouts.