The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is facing allegations that it hid hundreds of cases of child molestation on the part of Scout leaders from the 1970s to the 90s, and even helped admitted offenders cover their tracks, allowing them to cite other reasons for suddenly resigning from their leadership positions.
According to a report in the September 16 Los Angeles Times, a review of 1,600 internal Boy Scouts case files from those years uncovered details of both alleged and confirmed child molesters within the organization. Frequently, according to the Times, volunteers and employees “suspected of abuse were allowed to leave, citing bogus reasons such as business demands, 'chronic brain dysfunction,' and duties at a Shakespeare festival.”
For decades the BSA has dealt with the problem of pedophiles and molesters slipping through its screening process, and since the 1990s has added layers of safeguards to its application process for selecting Scout leaders. The issue helps to explain why the BSA decided earlier this year to maintain its longtime ban on admitted homosexual men and women from serving in leadership positions in the organization.
Since 1919 the BSA has maintained a file of both known and alleged molesters who have been blacklisted from serving in the organization. While BSA attorneys have consistently fought in court to keep those records sealed, the 1,600 cases were culled from lawsuits filed against the organization and Scout leaders over the years. Nearly 1,200 “ineligible volunteer” files from 1965 to 1985 are set to be released for public view under an order by the Oregon Supreme Court. The files were part of a 2010 lawsuit in which an Oregon jury found the BSA liable in a pedophile case from the 1980s, awarding the plaintiff nearly $20 million in damages. According to individuals involved in the Oregon case, the BSA is currently facing more than 50 pending child sexual abuse cases in 18 states.
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Photo: BSA National Office in Irving, Texas