Former Wilmington youth group camp leader convicted of sexually assaulting boys decades ago

The assaults took place between 1979-1983
P Drutchal
Peter Drutchal (Photo: District Attorney's Office)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Vermont man has pleaded guilty to six charges of sexual violence stemming from decades-old crimes in Wilmington.

On Wednesday morning a judge sentenced Peter Drutchal, 69, to two consecutive active sentences of 15 years, for a total of 30 years in prison.

Between 1979 and 1983 , Drutchal operated an organization in Wilmington that was an adventure youth group that offered hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. High Adventure Unit One was an offshoot of the Cape Fear Council of the Boy Scouts.

According to the district attorney’s office, Drutchal ultimately broke away from the Boy Scouts and continued to run the camp under the same name for several years. He later opened the High Adventure Outdoor
Center in Brunswick County before operating camps in New York and Vermont.

In 2017, one of the participants at the Wilmington camp filed a report with the Wilmington Police Department, disclosing abuse at the hands of the defendant when he was 11 and 12 years old. The victim
reported sexual assaults at multiple locations throughout New Hanover County, Pender County, and locations around the country and Canada.

This victim provided contact information for a second victim who now lives out of state, who was able to corroborate this conduct.

This second victim met Drutchal when he was acting as a substitute teacher in victim’s middle school, at which time he was encouraged to join the adventure camp.

At the time of the report, Drutchal was being released from prison in Vermont following convictions for sexual violence involving victims in another camp that Drutchal opened in that state. This prison sentence
followed a 2001 investigation that had two named victims. During the course of that investigation detectives learned that Drutchal admitted to members of the board of that adventure camp that the abuse took place.

In Wednesday’s plea, Drutchal pleaded guilty to three counts of Attempted Statutory Sexual Offense and three counts of Indecent Liberties with a Child.

Judge Harrell sentenced Drutchal with an aggravating factor, that he took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to commit the offenses. He will be required to register as a sex offender for life and is not permitted to have any contact with any minor child.

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