The Boy Scouts of America has practiced a pattern of essentially condoning child sex abuse committed by its Scoutmasters and other leaders by protecting those who’ve been accused of the crime.
According to an AP report on a Los Angeles Times investigation, there are at least 400 instances of sexual abuse included in the Boy Scouts’ “perversion files” that have never been reported to authorities. They involve more than 100 leaders within the organization who have been accused of sexual abuse crimes against children participating in the popular program.
The Boy Scouts’ “perversion files” date back to 1919 but the newspaper’s investigation only covered crimes alleged from 1970 until 1991. They were originally created to maintain a blacklist of people who were not right to serve the Boy Scouts in a leadership role because they had been accused of sexually abusing children who participated. Often times, either a Scoutmaster or Pack leader would be removed from the specific group he was leading but the Boy Scouts’ ignorance to check this list likely resulted in many children being abused by repeat offenders.
These files were unsealed from confidentiality as part of a massive lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America in Oregon. The organization was accused of protecting sexual abusers and putting thousands at potential risk of becoming the next victims of abuse.
Rather than risk a publicity fallout from repeated patterns of sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts still maintained its “perversion files” but failed to act on any of the accusations by reporting the accused to authorities for possible prosecution. Even if a Scoutmaster or Pack leader was accused of these crimes, they may have been removed from that specific group but were essentially free to find a home elsewhere with another Pack or Troop in another area. Since the organization was not checking those files to see if a prospective leader had been accused of those crimes, they were often allowed to join a new group without worry.
The files contain several detailed accounts showing how the Scouts protected sexual abusers and left children the unknowing prey for these predators.
In separate incidents reported in 1982, Scouts in Virginia and Michigan had complained that a group leader had been abusing members of camps in those states. In each instance, the camp leaders were allowed to resign from the organization without fear they would be prosecuted. In Michigan, the Scouts who had brought the accusations were told to keep the allegations quiet for fear they would hurt the reputation of the organization and the Scout leader.
In an incident in 1976, Pennsylvania Scouts had accused their Pack leader of sexual abuse but he was also allowed to resign without incident and the Boy Scouts even accepted his reasoning of needing to travel more for work for his action. The Scouts accepted the resignation of that particular leader “with extreme regret,” according to the report.
While these files show a disturbing pattern of protecting sexual abusers within Boy Scouts of America, it is believed more details could emerge as the Oregon Supreme Court said in June that more confidential files held by the organization would be released soon.