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Press Release

Boy Scout Volunteer Admits Hiding Cameras in Missouri Camp Bathrooms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

ST. LOUIS – A former Boy Scout volunteer on Thursday admitted hiding cameras in bathrooms at a St. Francois County, Missouri scout camp.

David Lee Nelson, 41, of Redmond, Washington, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to two counts of production of child pornography and two counts of attempted production of child pornography.

Nelson admitted hiding two cameras in bathrooms at the S Bar F Scout Ranch in St. Francois County in July of 2021 while there as a volunteer. Nelson hid the cameras in paper towel dispensers and positioned them so they would capture the interior of the bathroom, including a shower stall. 

One camera was discovered when a scout leader and scouts were cleaning out one of the restroom stalls. A search uncovered another camera, and leaders then called the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department. Later in the day, a scout leader spotted Nelson near the bathrooms holding his cell phone. Nelson then walked into the restroom stalls where the cameras were hidden.

When questioned later by a sheriff’s deputy, Nelson lied and said he was looking for a cell phone charger that he’d left in the stall after a shower. But Nelson’s own image was captured in the videos he’d recorded with the hidden cameras.

As part of his plea agreement, Nelson has agreed to forfeit computers, tablets, hard drives, other storage devices and two digital cameras that were seized during the investigation.

He is scheduled to be sentenced April 25. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, followed by a term of supervised release of up to life. Both sides have agreed to recommend a sentence of between 15 and 22 years in prison.

The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Drake is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit


Robert Patrick, Public Affairs Officer,

Updated January 25, 2024

Project Safe Childhood