Boy Scout files will reveal decades of sexual abuse coverup

The Boy Scouts of America could face a wave of bad publicity as decades of records of confirmed or alleged child molesters within the U.S. organization are expected to be released in coming weeks.

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the organization failed to report allegations of sex abuse of scouts by adult leaders and volunteers to police in hundreds of cases from 1970 to 1991. In some cases, the Boy Scouts helped the accused “cover their tracks,” the paper said.

The story was based on a review of 1,600 internal Boy Scouts case files the newspaper said it obtained that detailed accusations against confirmed or alleged child molesters within the youth organization.

About 1,200 “ineligible volunteer” files dating from 1965 to 1985 are set to be publicly released under a June order by the Oregon Supreme Court, including some already reviewed by the newspaper.

Those files played a key role in a 2010 civil trial in which an Oregon jury found the Boy Scouts liable in a 1980s pedophile case and ordered the organization to pay nearly $20 million in damages.

The files will be released within three to four weeks, said Paul Mones, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff in the Oregon case.

In the wake of revelations about systemic child sex abuse within the Catholic Church and the recent Penn State sex abuse scandal, the files threaten to damage the reputation of one of America’s most trusted institutions.

Mones said the allegations revealed in the Oregon case are not necessarily comparable to the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal.

“In the Catholic Church there were overt cover-ups, and I don’t think you see a lot of that here with the Boy Scouts,” Mones told Reuters on Sunday.

The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement on Sunday that while it regrets past incidents where scouts were sexually abused, its current policies require even suspicions of abuse to be reported directly to law enforcement.

“The BSA (has) continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs and safety policies,” the statement said.

The organization said it has maintained an internal “ineligible volunteer” file since at least 1919 to prevent suspected or confirmed child sex abusers from joining or re-entering its ranks.

Boy Scouts of America officials and attorneys have said the files represent only a fraction of the adults who participate as scout leaders each year.

The Boy Scouts have annually counted between 3.5 and 5 million scouts and more than 1 million adult leaders and volunteers among its members since the 1960s, a spokesman for the organization said.

The organization is facing more than 50 pending child sexual abuse cases in 18 states, according to Kelly Clark, another plaintiff attorney in the Oregon case.

Mones said he did not expect many new lawsuits to result from the upcoming release of the Scouts’ files, predicting that statutes of limitation on sex abuse charges in most U.S. states would prevent victims from successful civil or criminal prosecution of alleged molesters.

© 2012 Thomson Reuters

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2 Responses to "Boy Scout files will reveal decades of sexual abuse coverup"

  1. Sandy Price  September 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

    How awful. I helped start a Girl Scout troop in our new school in Calabasas way back but there was no interest in forming a Boy Scout troop. The school was on 13 acres of open land and we had a small troop that I helped keep going for both my girls. I loved it! When a new baby Gorilla was born at the LA Zoo, we put in some money and bought a brick as part of the new area construction and the girls had a wonderful feeling of being involved in the new baby. He was so ugly, he was cute. He must be fully grown by now. Even I was a Girl Scout in Santa Monica.

    We also had an active YMCA that was associated with the Woodland Hills group and kept the kids busy during Christmas Vacation. Being in charge of so many children should have kept perverts away. I never saw anything like that.

  2. Jim B.  September 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    RE: this quote from the article: “On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the organization failed to report allegations of sex abuse of scouts by adult leaders and volunteers to police in hundreds of cases from 1970 to 1991. In some cases, the Boy Scouts helped the accused “cover their tracks,” the paper said.”

    ….contradicts this quote within the article:

    ““In the Catholic Church there were overt cover-ups, and I don’t think you see a lot of that here with the Boy Scouts,” Mones told Reuters on Sunday.”

    The cover-ups in the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church seem comparable.

    Very sad business

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