CRIME: Idaho Underworld

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Boise, Idaho (pop. 50,000), the state capital, is usually thought of as a boisterous, rollicking he-man's town, and home of the rugged Westerner. In the downtown saloons of the city a faint echo of Boise's ripsnorting frontier days can still be heard, but its quiet residential areas and 70 churches give the city an appearance of immaculate respectability. Recently, Boiseans were shocked to learn that their city had sheltered a widespread homosexual underworld that involved some of Boise's most prominent men and had preyed on hundreds of teen-age boys for the past decade.

In a succession of arrests and hearings that rocked Boise, those formally charged included Joe Moore, 54, vice president of the Idaho First National Bank, Attorney Paris T. Martin, 44, John Calvin Bartlett, 28, a high-school teacher in a nearby town, as well as a clerk in a haberdashery, a hospital orderly, a liquor salesman, two interior decorators, a warehouseman, and a buyer for a women's store. Last week Ralph Cooper, 33, a shoeshine boy and ex-convict, was sentenced to life in prison. Interior Decorator Charles H. Gordon, 40, got 15 years. Two other defendants pleaded guilty to committing "infamous crimes against nature." Other arrests and hearings are expected this week.

The scandal was uncovered by Howard Dice, a private detective, after one boy's parents found out what had been going on. In the course of their investigation, police talked with 125 youths who had been involved. All were between the ages of 13 and 20. Usually, the motive—and the lure—was money. Many of the boys wanted money for maintenance of their automobiles (Idaho grants daylight driving permits to children of 14, regular licenses to 15-year-olds). The usual fees given to the boys were $5 to $10 per assignation.

This week the shocked community and the state began a rehabilitation program for the boys. Social workers began to investigate each case, to work out any family problems. A citizens' committee representing virtually every organization in Boise began a campaign to get after-school jobs for the boys, and a special team of psychiatrists will arrive this week from Denver, at the expense of the State Board of Health, to treat the young victims.