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Boy Scout Files Show Failure to Protect Kids from Sexual Predators

Aug 6, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Boy Scouts of America continually allowed Scout Masters and other leaders within the organization to prey on children even after they were suspected and “blacklisted” due to allegations of child sexual abuse.

According to an AP report on a Los Angeles Times investigation, the newspaper has uncovered internal documents which show at least 125 cases in which Scout leaders who were put into the organization’s “perversion files” that should have blacklisted them from serving other troops were able to do so because of various errors.

The “perversion files” are used as a background check on all paid and volunteer positions within Boy Scouts of America. The files include cases in which some Scout leaders admitted to being sexually abusive toward children and other cases in which some leaders were suspected of abusing Scouts sexually.

These files were only recently uncovered when former victims of abuse came forward with their allegations. As much as the Scouts has proven to be grounds for child sexual abusers, the organization has been accused as much for allowing the behavior to continue and covering-up cases of suspected abuse.

The investigation included a review of more than 1,200 documents and it revealed a system of behavior and negligence that showed no compassion for the victims. In at least 125 cases, Scout leaders who had already been put on this list were still allowed to move to another troop where they likely met new victims of their sexual abuse.

“Clerical errors, computer glitches, or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist” enabled these abusive Scout leaders to move almost freely from one troop to the next. In 50 of the cases discovered through the L.A. Times investigation, the Scouts had originally expelled the abusive leaders but they were able to bypass any background checks when they joined another troop in another location.

In other cases, BSA officials never filed initial allegations against abusive Scout leaders and waited until new allegations were filed, if they ever were.

Detailing some of the cases, the investigation found an incident in which a Scoutmaster was accused of molesting a 14-year-old Scout in Indiana. Despite that Scoutmaster being convicted of that crime in 1970, he was able to join the Scouts organization through troops in Illinois in 1971 and again in 1988. The Scoutmaster has eventually admitted to molesting more than 100 boys and eventually convicted in 1989. He is currently serving a 100-year prison sentence.

In another case, a Minnesota scout leader convicted of abusing a boy in his troop in 1991 was able to freely return to the same troop after he got out of jail.

This investigation follows a recent string of news reports which outline how the Boy Scouts of America acted similarly to other organizations like members of the Catholic Church, the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community, and Penn State University in systematically covering-up patterns of childhood sexual abuse.  

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