They were supposed to be role models. Since 1910, adult mentors volunteering with Boy Scouts of America have helped millions of youth learn new skills, develop friendships and serve their communities. But altruism has not been the motivating force for all of these leaders. Recent reports suggest that thousands of these individuals were, in fact, sexual predators who used their leadership positions in the Boy Scouts to target child victims. Further, although Boy Scouts of America keeps records of sexual abuse allegations, it appears the organization has failed to release adequate information about the offenders to the public. These disclosures may have helped hold perpetrators accountable while preventing future victimizations.
In 1944, the Boys Scouts of America began keeping “perversion files” – records of members who had been removed from the organization due to allegations that they had sexually abused scouts. These records were not made public until 2012, when an Oregon Supreme Court judge ordered them to be released. The information in the files suggested that 1,247 troop leaders had been accused of sexual misconduct between 1965 and 1985. It turns out that number represented a mere fraction of the offenders.
In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America tasked Janet Warren, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, with reviewing and improving its system for tracking individuals who were not permitted to work within the organization. After a lengthy review of files dating from 1944 to 2016, Warren concluded that 7,819 Boy Scouts volunteers had been removed from service due to allegations of sexual abuse. The victim count totaled 12,254.
The Boy Scouts of America is now contending with intense public scrutiny. While the organization claims to report every allegation of abuse to the proper authorities, critics are not convinced. According to The New York Times, after reviewing the 2012 Boy Scouts files, two news outlets concluded some prosecutors and law enforcement officials had protected accused offenders, perhaps attempting to shield scouting from negative publicity. The Boy Scouts failed to protect the very children it serves, while putting communities at risk by not disclosing information about potential predators in their midst. To even begin to address these grievous errors, the Scouts must release the names of allaccused offenders. Yet, the organization continues to stall, and thousands of perpetrators remain nameless.
While the Boy Scouts claim to foster the health and success of youth, it is clear that the organization has its own best interests in mind. Our attorneys are committed to using the civil justice system to hold the Boy Scouts of America accountable for its negligence. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a member of the Boy Scouts, please contact us for a free consultation.
Sources and Resources:
- Nearly 8,000 Boy Scout Leaders Have Been Accused of Sexual Abuse Since 1944, Researcher Found
- Lawyer calls Boy Scouts’ response to sexual abuse scandal ‘grossly deficient’
- More Details Emerge on Boy Scouts’ ‘Perversion Files; Thousands of Boy Scout Leaders Face Child Sex Allegations
- The list of Boy Scouts leaders accused of sexual abuse has nearly 3,000 more names than previously known
- More than 12,000 Boy Scout members were victims of sexual abuse, expert says