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Sexually Abused Men When they were Campers in Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp Have Spoken

A photo of Bradley Earl Reger from his detention memo. Reger, who volunteered on and off for years at Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp, was arrested last month on charges alleging he abused more than a dozen boys and young men. (sOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office photo)

Two California men have come forward to claim that Bradley Earl Reger, whom the FBI believes is responsible for the decades-long abuse of dozens, if not hundreds of boys, abused them while they were young campers at Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp.

A photo Zack Winfrey took of the Mendenhall Glacier during a trip to Alaska with his church youth group in the early 2000s. (Source: Zack Winfrey)

Campers in Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp

In the FBI’s criminal report, Reger is accused of leading boys on “camping trips in Alaska,” and he has a long-standing, well-established connection to the camp. However, the men’s statements are the first to claim that abuse took place at the camp. Troy Wilson, a former resident of Juneau, said earlier this month that Reger had molested him while traveling to California. Wilson told KTOO that Reger had used the camp as a “mechanism” to win the trust of families so he could later travel alone with their kids. Wilson, though, claimed he was unaware of any mistreatment Reger may have perpetrated at the camp.

According to Zack Winfrey, who resided at Echo Ranch between 2003 and 2006, he did. He admitted to being mistreated at Echo Ranch in an interview with KTOO last week. Derrick Fox, a Californian who visited Echo Ranch at the same time as Winfrey and claimed Reger mistreated him, corroborates Winfrey’s testimony. Both men spoke about a respected, well-known church member who was functioning with little control. They claim Reger mistreated them for years and that during his visits to Echo Ranch, he had access to kids without much adult supervision. It’s also unclear whether there were any child safety procedures in place.

The camp stated in response to KTOO’s inquiry on Winfrey and Fox’s accounts and stated that it was treating the accusations seriously. The statement continued, “We have heard that alleged abuse may have occurred at ERBC. As a result, and by our organization’s Child Safety Protection Policies and Procedures, Avant Ministries immediately alerted law enforcement agencies.

Both men gave accounts of a reputable, prominent church member who was largely unsupervised. When Reger visited Echo Ranch, they claim, he had access to youngsters with little to no adult supervision, and it’s unclear whether there were any policies in place to protect children. They allege that Reger had assaulted them for years.

The camp responded with a statement stating that it was taking the accusations seriously when KTOO called the camp director to inquire about Winfrey’s and Fox’s stories. We recently discovered that alleged abuse might have occurred at ERBC, according to the statement. By our organization’s Child Safety Protection Policies and Procedures, Avant Ministries informed law enforcement agencies right away as a result.

Winfrey and Fox each informed KTOO that Reger will lead a group of around a dozen SuzNaz Youth members to Alaska for several weeks. The group would stay in a building on the grounds of Auke Bay Bible Church for a short while and then spend some time at Echo Ranch Bible Camp in Juneau.

Additionally, they explored the Southeast. Winfrey recalled kayaking excursions and Chilkoot Trail hikes. His pictures from the vacations are typical snapshots: boys trekking in the bush, kayaks parked on a beach, and Southeast sights like Main Street in Skagway and the Mendenhall Glacier. Additionally, they include recognizable Echo Ranch images, such as the cross near the beach that is still displayed on the camp’s Facebook page.

Both men claimed that Reger occasionally brought the group to Echo Ranch when no other groups were there. Winfrey said they would help with cabin construction and camp maintenance while they were there.

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Campers at Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp

In the Campers in Juneau’s Echo Ranch Bible Camp cabins and at a nurse’s station, according to Winfrey, Reger assaulted him numerous times on that first trip. In 2003, Fox visited Echo Ranch for the first time as well. Like Winfrey, Fox said that Reger frequently mistreated him while posing as his doctor. For the most part, the abuse was extremely brief in length, according to Fox. But almost often, like several times per trip. Both men claimed that Reger occasionally brought the group to Echo Ranch when no other groups were there. Winfrey said they would help with cabin construction and camp maintenance while they were there.

It was clear that many people lacked the financial means to just go to Alaska and stay there for a few weeks. “He had a deal for all the youth group members.”

Randy Alderfer, the camp’s director since 2009, stated on Friday that he was unable to confirm any information regarding Reger’s time at Echo Ranch or whether or not he donated any money. Additionally, Reger is a donor, but Echo Ranch will not comment on him, according to Brynden Wiens, the camp’s administrator, who wrote to KTOO in an email. “As a matter of policy, we are unable to share any details regarding individual (private) donations made to our organization,” Wiens stated.

Alderfer acknowledged that adults were never allowed to be by themselves with children at the camp, but he was unable to specify when that rule was put in place. In his email, Wiens explained the kid safety regulations that are currently in effect, but he dodged queries regarding the regulations that were in effect when Winfrey and Fox visited the camp.

Reger’s statement and a link to the FBI’s website for reporting potential abuse by Reger are now both present on the modified version of Echo Ranch’s website. Reger allegedly continued to assault him until he was 20 years old, according to Winfrey. Fox claimed that when he was 17 years old, Reger gave him an exam that caused him to begin to wonder what was going on.

Fox claimed that despite telling his parents, they still believed that the treatment he described qualified as medical treatment. Reger was characterized by both men as well-liked and influential churchgoers. However, both men recall Reger acting inappropriately in public while on the travels, such as roaming around in just his underwear or breaking into children’s hotel rooms without permission.

Over the years, there have also been reports of abuse. Reger was first looked at for child sex abuse in California in 1986. Subsequent investigations followed in 2003, 2006, and 2007. None of those inquiries resulted in a detention.

When KTOO inquired about Reger’s involvement with the church and any contributions he might have made, the Susanville Church of the Nazarene did not respond. Winfrey was one of the witnesses who argued that Reger should be detained until his trial after federal investigators arrested him in July.

Winfrey said in a statement to the FBI, “I’ve slept very uncomfortably for over a decade knowing that Brad was out there free and able to do anything he wanted, whenever he wanted to do it. For the first time in my whole life, I’d like to know that the person who destroyed my life is now secure in a location where he cannot harm anybody else.

Winfrey claimed he had spoken to further victims of Reger’s alleged abuse, at least one from each decade going back to the 1970s. He claims that all of their tales, starting with Troy Wilson’s, are uncannily similar and involve him making friends with boys when they are approximately 10 or 11 years old, going on unsupervised trips with them, and finding methods to integrate them into his life until they are teenagers.

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