An investigation by the Los Angeles Times has turned up more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Boy Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior.
Since at least 1919, the BSA has maintained a confidential list of “ineligible volunteers,” meant to blacklist certain individuals from returning to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization. The records that deal with sexual predators are referred to as “the perversion files.”
“It is a fact that Scouts are safer because the barrier created by these files is real,” BSA Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca said in video posted on the organization’s website in June.
However, the Los Angeles Times says that barrier has been repeatedly breached.
In response to the Times‘ findings, the Boy Scouts of America issued the following statement:
“The Boy Scouts of America believes even a single instance of abuse is unacceptable, and we regret there have been times when the BSA’s best efforts to protect children were insufficient. For that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims…. We are committed to the ongoing enhancement of our program, in line with evolving best practices for protecting youth.”
Some of the more disturbing points of the Times‘ article include:
- Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist.
- In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on “probation.”
- One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indiana. Even after being convicted of the crime, he went on to join two troops in Illinois between 1971 and 1988. He later admitted to molesting more than 100 boys, was convicted of the sexual assault of a Scout in 1989 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, according to his file and court records.
- In 1991, a Scout leader convicted of abusing a boy in Minnesota returned to his old troop — right after getting out of jail.
The full Times article, excellently reported by Jason Felch and Kim Christensen, is here. The Times has released excerpts from the files they reviewed, with victims’ names redacted, in a separate article. Readers should note that the actual files are explicit and disturbing: Documents: Paper Trail of Abuse.
So, I’m gonna go ahead and say it: Boy Scouts of America needs to spend less time worrying about keeping gay men and women out of their organization, and a lot more time keeping child molesters out. Get your priorities straight, BSA.
(Photo Credit: Texas Department of Public Safety)
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