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Man sentenced for molesting boys in NC decades after the crimes happened

Peter Drutchal pleaded guilty to molesting two boys who participated in his outdoor adventure...
Peter Drutchal pleaded guilty to molesting two boys who participated in his outdoor adventure program in North Carolina during the 1970s and 1980s.(Bennington Police Department)
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 12:53 PM CST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) – A man in North Carolina was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex crimes committed against children in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to WECT, Peter Drutchal was a Boy Scout High Adventure leader and substitute teacher for New Hanover County schools before forming his own youth program, borrowing the name High Adventure for his private business.

John Stawicki, one of the victims who came forward in this case, joined the Boy Scout High Adventure program when he was 11 and followed Drutchal when he branched off to start his own program.

“He would always say you don’t want the stupid [Boy Scout] badges,” Stawicki said. “He told my dad it was so he would have his pick of the kids in the group. Otherwise, he would have to take every kid that applied. And so, if you make it private and separate, he could pick the kids.”

Stawicki said he’s convinced Drutchal’s sole purpose for leading High Adventure was to gain access to young boys.

Stawicki said Drutchal began molesting him early on and the abuse continued for five years. As preteens, he and other boys struggled to process what was happening to them.

Decades after the abuse, 54-year-old Stawicki said he’s still traumatized.

The experience at the hands of someone he trusted changed the trajectory of his life. He says he’s now on disability because of the mental toll Drutchal’s abuse had on him.

“I just compartmentalized it as best as I could,” Stawicki explained. “And it was always there … It’s just like this little film strip or something going in the background playing over and over again. I just tried to make sure no one knew about it more than anything because I was ashamed of it or whatever, like I had done something wrong.”

Drutchal moved north in 1989 and founded Adventure Quest, an outdoor summertime leadership camp for youth.

According to WECT, court records and published reports state Drutchal sexually abused two of his students there and later served prison time for the crimes.

He had been released on parole when the charges from North Carolina caught up with him and he was arrested at his home in Wilmington in November 2021.

Drutchal, who is now in his late 60s, pleaded guilty to three counts of taking indecent liberties with children, and three counts of attempted first degree sex offense.

He will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

If Drutchal is still alive when he becomes eligible for parole, Stawicki said he will work to make sure the man stays behind bars so he can never hurt another child.

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