• Woodrow Wagaman

A Biography of Joseph Thornton

Joseph Thornton was born on December 28th, 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was an unloving drunk. He had several friends who were abused and he himself was involved with an older man. At some point he joined the military and married his wife. I am unsure what he did as a job. He was very active in the Boy Scouts.

In 1989, he touched a boy under the pretense of showing him a stamp collection. He told the young man that many boys ask him for sexual favors and to show them what to do. Joe also said he knew the young man was cool and would not tell anyone.

The young man finally revealed to his mother what happened when he refused to go a camping trip with Joseph Thornton to New Jersey. He was prosecuted for a 3rd degree sexual offense against a minor and was sentenced to 10 years, with 5 years probation. However the 10 years were suspended and he only had to serve 10 years probation.

At some point he moved up to Pennsylvania, bringing his ailing wife with him. They began attending church at St. Matthew Lutheran Church. I want to share with you, dear reader, the career this convicted 3rd degree sexual predator had at St. Matthew.

He attended any event that the church had, always dwelling in the background. Soon enough, he would rise to the position of passing out Holy Communion. He did this fairly regularly. Soon after my abuse, he served as delegate of St. Matthew to the Lower Susquehanna Synod meeting. He was later elected as Vice President of the Church Council.

While Vice President, he declared himself church liaison with the Boy Scout Troop. He famously showed up at the Camp Nawakwa retreat unannounced and was able to corral all of the boys into the kitchen with no other adults. At no point was he screened. Pastor Daniel Yieser was informed of my accusation by my father and he informed Joseph Thornton. Joseph Thornton was allowed to continue his term of service as Vice President until it expired in November, 2014. That Scout Sunday he directed the scout troop around. In March he would be arrested while at breakfast with a bunch of men from the Church. While in prison, he would be visited several times by Pastor Daniel Yieser and Pastor Keiser of Gettysburg. He would be sentenced in June. He is currently out of prison and living off of the Christian charity of others.

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