Lonnie Barnes: The Ex-Boy Scouts Leader Died in 2013

Image Credit: Leave No Trace/Hulu

As a documentary that explores the way a seemingly idyllic youth organization served as a breeding ground for predators for nearly a century, Hulu’s ‘Leave No Trace’ is as poignant as it is damning. That’s because it profiles the real stories of a few men (out of about 82,000) who’ve come forward to file sexual assault claims against scout leaders and volunteers alike, leading to BSA’s downfall. Amongst those to have been publicly accused, particularly by Stuart Lord, was Lonnie Barnes — so now, let’s find out more about him as well as his reported heinous offenses, shall we?

Who is Lonnie Barnes?

Lonnie Barnes was not only a Boy Scouts of America leader and an assistant scoutmaster, as per the Hulu original, but he was also an abuser who took advantage of minors for quite a long time. He was actually fired and expelled from campgrounds a week into the season sometime in the 1970s after someone “found a liquor bottle outside his tent,” yet it didn’t really change anything. “It did not affect his participation at all in the program,” Stuart Lord — someone Lonnie’d reportedly assaulted from 1970 to 1978 — stated. “[And he] told me that if I told anyone, then he would kill me.”

According to a case against the institution (filed in 2019, likely by Stuart), Lonnie assaulted his victim both at Camp Siwanoy in Wingdale as well as at his home in New Rochelle, New York. One of the worst aspects, though, is that he reportedly portrayed himself as the accuser’s father figure throughout the duration of his violations before going as far as to introduce him to other abusers. From committing and enabling forced intercourse to essentially breaking the youngster’s spirit by assaulting him on the night of his foster mother’s death and the night of her funeral, Lonnie purportedly did it all, as per the suit.

Lonnie actually detailed his horrific actions to the authorities around the early 2000s, as per the documentary, which consequently drove Stuart to go public with his tale for the first time. “I’m 40 years old before I tell someone [I was sexually abused],” he revealed, acknowledging the fact he’d suppressed his trauma in fear of his safety as well as in fear of not being believed. “When the detective said he confessed to abusing you,” Stuart added through tears, “I must’ve read that email a hundred times, because I no longer had to prove to people I was abused. I was free.”

How Did Lonnie Barnes Die?

From what we can tell, Lonnie Barnes was not formally indicted, let alone convicted, of any sexual assault charges over the decades, meaning he remained a free man until the very end. It appears as if the New Rochelle, New York native passed away at the age of 82 on September 16, 2013. Considering his age and the fact that no cause of death has ever been made publicly available, we believe his demise was natural.

Read More: John Humphrey: Where is the Boy Scouts Abuse Survivor Now?