Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Sex offender Robert Tubbs at the Utah State Prison

Robert Michael Tubbs used two of the most trusted titles in the community to prey on teenage boys.

As a Scoutmaster, he sodomized four brothers ages 12 to 17 for more than a year. As a baseball coach, he molested "five or six" boys on his team, he doesn't recall the exact number.

Tubbs, 56, went to prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a child in the case involving the siblings. He never told authorities about the other victims.

Until two weeks ago, Tubbs was one of nearly 1,900 sex offenders at the Utah State Prison.

On March 4 — about 15 years after he committed the crime for which he was sentenced — Tubbs was released from prison to a supervised halfway house in Ogden.

In his parole agreement he agrees to stay away from children. He has a 9 p.m. curfew for 30 days. He will be under close supervision by a parole agent who can visit him and search his home, car, computer or body at any time. He'll go to sex offender treatment and mental health therapy. He won't look at pornography, date anyone with kids or hang out with other cons without express permission of his parole officer.

In a parole hearing last month, Cheryl Hansen, a member of Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole, asked him outright: "Are you going to be able to not victimize?"

"Yes," Tubbs told the hearing officer. "I will not victimize children."

But interviews with Tubbs and his therapist in prison and a review of documents on his case reveal a 30-year trail of abuse and what Tubbs calls "deviant behavior."

In 1973, shortly after returning home from an LDS Church mission to Japan, he began coaching a baseball team made up of 14- to 16-year-old boys from scattered towns in western Weber County.

He singled out a handful of players to grope and sodomize, mostly in his car after practice or games. He bought them hamburgers and took them to movies in exchange for their silence. He relied on their loyalty to keep quiet, and they apparently did.

Authorities never prosecuted Tubbs. He revealed his secret to no one except an LDS bishop whom he says told him to refrain from the conduct and advised him to see a counselor at LDS Social Services.

Tubbs, though, thought he could do it alone because "strong men don't need help." He clenched his teeth and went into what he calls "white-knuckle remission."

"It didn't work, that's for sure," Tubbs told reporters in an interview.

For the next decade, he worked, served in his church and dated. He said he avoided situations that would put him around teenage boys.

"When I got married, I thought, 'Things should be OK.'"

But after he wed in an LDS temple at age 32, the church assigned him and his wife to work with children in the ward. He found himself leading a Scout troop. Tubbs says he had a "normal" sex life with his wife. He figured he could handle being around teenage boys.

Despite growing confusion over his own sexuality, he says he didn't abuse any boys then. During that decade, he rose to the ranks of a district Scout leader.

Tubbs became acquainted with his victims — four brothers ages 12 to 17 — through the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts of America brotherhood of select young men who best exemplify the Scout oath and law, which includes terms like trustworthy, loyal and kind. Tubbs was an area leader.

The boys were from a family with 13 children. "It clicked that there must be someone in this family where there would be some vulnerabilities," he said.

In separate incidents, he groped and sodomized the boys from June 1992 to August 1993. At age 17, as one of the victims was preparing for an LDS mission, the boy told his bishop about the abuse. The church leader called the police and Tubbs was arrested.

"I was relieved actually," he said. "Then there were no more secrets. I could at last be more honest."

Tubbs says today the biggest contributor to his abuse was confusion about his own sexuality. "I never met a gay man until I came to prison," he said. "I felt pretty isolated in that part of my life."

Tubbs went to prison the first time on Feb. 18, 1994, and was paroled on May 9, 2000.

During that time, he graduated from a halfway house and a sex offender treatment program and developed a new identity as a gay man, he says. He became involved in what he called a supportive gay community.

But his parole was revoked in March 4, 2005, because he was caught looking at pornography, and he was sent back to prison.

Tubbs would not allow the Department of Corrections to release a copy of his parole history to reporters, which would have verified his parole violations.

He stayed in prison three more years until this month.

Tubbs admits it's been a long road to freedom this time. He's been kicked out of treatment. He was in denial. He went through 13 therapists before meeting Harold Blakelock at the prison's sex offender treatment program.

Blakelock's "behaviorist" approach resonated with Tubbs. "He had a lot of good insight into making good choices.

"The biggest thing I learned was that I needed to be more 'other' centered."