Recently released confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America have shown details of over 20 years of allegations of, cover-up of, and refusals to report molestation of boys participating in the program. An investigation of over 1,600 files reviewed by the Los Angeles Times revealed decades of cover-ups and forced resignations when volunteers were suspected of abuse, even when the men admitted to the charges.
The details are contained in the organization’s confidential “perversion files,” a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts’ lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.
As The Times reported in August, the blacklist often didn’t work: Men expelled for alleged abuses slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again. Now, a more extensive review has shown that Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.
In the majority of cases, the Scouts learned of alleged abuse after it had been reported to authorities. But in more than 500 instances, the Scouts learned about it from boys, parents, staff members or anonymous tips.
In about 400 of those cases — 80% — there is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.
In 1982, a Michigan Boy Scout camp director who learned of allegations of repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn’t promptly report them because his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and the accused staff member.
“He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet,” according to a police report in the file. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep 2012.
The Boy Scouts of America fought the release of the documents, stating that details of the files “may still negatively impact victims’ privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse.” To watch the complete statement, visit the BSA website.