Danny Shore at age 15.

A mother’s mission: a devastating loss leads to law reform

“He was a perfectly happy 12-year-old kid when he joined Boy Scouts. But then he completely shut down.”

By Jill Draper

There was no way Giselle Shore was going to miss this trip. In March she flew to Cleveland, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She didn’t go for the scenery. She went to witness the trial of her son’s former Boy Scout leader who was charged with molesting four underage boys in a northern Georgia community.

“I wanted him to see my face,” she says. She was satisfied to hear the jury pronounce him guilty on eight counts, noting, “He’s 57—he won’t ever get out of prison.”

Six years earlier her son stared at his face in a Jackson County courtroom. Her son was suing the same man for sexually abusing him some 2,000 times from age 12 to 17. The abuse happened before, during and after scouting events connected with his troop in south Kansas City. 

Danny Shore, the victim, went by the name John Doe during the trial in order to protect his mother, who runs a hair styling business at 135th and State Line Road. He was awarded a $100 million civil judgment, but never received a dime. The scout leader, Scott Alan Bradshaw, declared bankruptcy and later moved away. 

Giselle Shore, middle, with her daughter Michele Levene and son Danny.

Gisele doesn’t care about protecting her identity anymore. She’s become an advocate for changing the statute of limitation laws in both Kansas and Missouri and has testified before legislative committees in Topeka and Jefferson City. 

When Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill in April giving child sexual abuse survivors in Kansas more time to file lawsuits, it was both a personal and public victory for her.  “Absolutely wonderful,” she remarks. 

There’s a similar bill working its way through the Missouri legislature, but it’s doubtful whether it will be passed this session.

These changes came too late for her son Danny. While the Jackson County Court award was somewhat healing, he was not able to get past years of abuse, which included repeated bouts of rape by his scout leader intertwined with crumbs of kindness like help with badges and birthday greetings. Danny tried therapy, church, alcohol and later, Alcoholics Anonymous. In 2017, after 11 earlier attempts, he took his own life at age 37.

“He was a perfectly happy 12-year-old kid when he joined Boy Scouts,” says Giselle. “It was great for him at first. But then he completely shut down. The person he became was controlled by fear and shame.”

Scott Bradshaw

At age 17 his parents became aware of the abuse. A social worker was sent to interview Danny, but like an obedient scout, he denied the exploitation. Bradshaw was removed from the troop, and a pager he had given to Danny was returned. According to Giselle, it was one of 36 pagers he had given to other boys in the area.

For years Danny refused to talk about his experiences. He graduated from high school and started a party bus business. One day at age 22 he noticed his former scout leader driving to Rockhurst High, presumably to pick up another boy. It triggered a flood of memories that he wrote down in a letter to his family.

The details were “heart-wrenching and disgusting and awful,” Giselle says. “I shredded that letter, it was so graphic.”

“There’s a lot more violence involved than people realize,” says former Boy Scout Dylan Edward Allen, who points out, “It’s not the parents’ fault. These abusers are mastermind criminals who act like they’ve all read the same playbook. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Allen was 12 when he had a feeling his own leader, a well-regarded doctor, Joe Mackey, was preying on scouts in his Lee’s Summit troop during roughly the same time period in the 1990s. Allen told the other troop leaders of his suspicions, but with Dr. Mackey’s high stature in the community and without any hard evidence, nothing was done.  “Nobody wanted to rock the boat,” he says.

A still from the upcoming film “Scouts” at scoutsdocumentary.com.

Both Giselle and Allen watched a documentary called “Leave No Trace” which debuted last June about the history of Boy Scouts, their knowledge of decades of abusive leaders and their 2020 bankruptcy when a window opened for more than 82,000 survivors to file claims in a court-ordered $2.46 billion settlement.

Allen is making his own documentary called “Scouts” with a fall release date. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film is structured like a thriller and offers a “360-degree view of why this happens and the horrific effects.” He hopes the film will save lives through awareness and provide comfort to victims.

“When I started, all I wanted to do was tell my friend’s story,” he says. “I had no idea there was going to be a bankruptcy and that so many people’s lives were being affected.” 

Giselle is featured in the film as a mom with her own story to tell. It’s helped her emerge from a numb zone she entered after Danny died. Advocating for new laws and witnessing her son’s abuser go to jail also helped.

But Mother’s Day and other holidays are still rough, a reminder of her family’s loss. And she’s not yet ready to forgive her son’s scout leader, as a church friend recently suggested. She’s still working on forgiving herself. 

She takes comfort in thinking about how Danny would react to her new activities.

“He would be proud of me,” Giselle says. “Very proud.”

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