Unbeknownst to many (including me), the Boy Scouts of America have had a “closely guarded a trove of secret documents that detail sexual abuse allegations against troop leaders and others.”1 For. Decades.
It seems the similarities between the Scouts and the Catholic church, are eerily similar.
Until recently, the most complete list of the abuse came from the LA Times in 2012 when they “published a searchable database of 5,000 files and case summaries,”1 part of the Scouts’ “blacklist known as the ‘perversion files.’”1 But now, seven years later, far more devastating and disturbing details are emerging about the scope of sex abuse in the boys organization. Indeed, a researcher hired by the Scouts analyzed records from 1944 to 2016 and identified 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 victims.
Lawyers for abuse victims say those number are grossly understated because most predators were accused of abusing multiple boys, far too many instances of abuse were never reported, and the Scouts have acknowledged destroying an unknown number of files over the years.
Seattle attorney Timothy Kosnoff, who has sued the Boy Scouts more than 100 times since 2007 reports that the allegations span decades and 48 states. Victims range in age from 14 to 97.
A partial statement to The Times from the Scouts said,
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. As soon as the BSA is notified of any allegation of abuse, it is immediately reported to law enforcement.”1
But that’s not what their actions communicate.
“Formally known for years as the Ineligible Volunteer files, the dossiers — now called the Volunteer Screening Database — name suspected abusers from all regions and contain biographical information, legal records, official correspondence and boys’ accounts of alleged abuse by Scout leaders who often were respected members of their communities. It was not necessary to be charged with a crime to be placed in the files, nor were all allegations substantiated.
The records have been kept for about a century. Their publication by The Times in 2012 triggered lawsuits by abuse victims who cited them as evidence the organization knew of pedophiles in their midst but failed to protect children.”1
Officials in the Scouts organization have fought hard in court to keep the files from public view, saying the confidentiality was necessary to protect the victims, witnesses and in case anyone had been falsely accused. Really? In our mind, the fact that the Boy Scouts failed to report offenders to authorities and often hid the allegations from parents and the public demonstrates the organization is woefully incapable of keeping children safe.
“In more than 125 cases, men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with allegations of abusive behavior.
More than 100 times, officials with the Scouts actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it. Scouts officials sometimes urged admitted offenders to quietly resign and then helped cover their tracks with bogus reasons for their departures.”1
While normally many of these cases would be past the statute of limitations, New York and New Jersey have both extended their statutes on child sexual abuse lawsuits and similar legislation is pending in California.
“This week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation allowing those who were victimized as children to sue until age 55 or within seven years of discovering that the abuse caused them harm. New York also has passed a law with similar provisions and a “look back window” that would allow some old claims to be revived.
A California bill working its way through the Legislature would expand the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual assault to sue for damages, raising the maximum age to file an action from 26 to 40, or within five years of discovering harm from the abuse.”1
As the Boy Scouts of America continue to deal with costly litigation and declining membership, the organization says it is considering “bankruptcy protection which would halt ongoing lawsuits while settlements are negotiated.”1
It’s time the BSA pay for what they’ve done by protecting these monsters.