News24

Scouts' sex abuse files made public

2012-10-18 20:57

Portland - Confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on men they suspected of child sex abuse have been released after a two-year-long court battle.

The anticipated release of the files on Thursday by Portland attorney Kelly Clark will reveal 20 000 pages of documents the Scouts kept on men inside - and in some cases outside - the organisation believed to have committed acts of abuse.

The court-ordered release of the so-called perversion files from 1965 to 1985 has prompted the organisation to pledge that they will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have not been reported to the police when alleged abuse took place.

That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice.

Within own ranks

The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking paedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organisation.

The Scouts began keeping the files shortly after their creation in 1910, when paedophilia was largely a crime dealt with privately. The organisation argues that the files helped them track offenders and protect children.

But some of the files released in 1991, detailing cases from 1971 to 1991, showed repeated instances of Scouts leaders failing to disclose sex abuse to authorities, even when they had a confession.

A lawsuit culminated in April 2010 with the jury ruling the BSA had failed to protect the plaintiff from a paedophile assistant Scoutmaster in the 1980s, even though that man had previously admitted molesting Scouts. The jury awarded $20m to the plaintiff.

Files kept before 1971 remained secret, until a judge ruled - and the Oregon Supreme Court agreed - that they should be released.

Comments
  • samantha.5243 - 2012-10-18 21:35

    Is there NO place that's safe for children these days? Is it any wonder that parents keep their kids indoors these days? And I wanted my kids to join the scouts , how does one do that now after reading this??

      james.urry.18 - 2012-10-18 22:58

      Firstly, Samantha, this story is about the Boy Scouts of America. That being said, sexual abuse can raise its ugly head in any aspect of our society from school to extracurricular activities. If you decide not to let your children become scouts after reading this story, then you also shouldn't let them go to school, go to the mall, get in a car, go to soccer clinic, go to ballet, etc. These cases are the exception rather than the rule and you shouldn't judge an entire organisation or activity based on them. Your comment would be equivalent to saying that your daughter cannot attend ballet classes after hearing about a ballet teacher who abused a child.

  • gerrit.vanpletzen - 2012-10-19 06:16

    They Boy Scouts, like the Catholic Church, has been a haven for paedophiles for many years. Any organisation who shelters paedophiles should by law be disbanded. Cancer within society should be excised promptly, and not be allowed to fester and grow strong. Anybody associated with the failure to disclose abuse should be named and shamed, and charged criminally with being accessories after the fact.The fortunes made from the gullible public should be forfeited, and the money should be used as compensation to the victims.

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