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'Perversion files' could shed light on sexual abuse in Boy Scouts

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"The BSA requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse," Smith said in the statement.

He didn't say whether the Scouts would try to block release of the files, but said the organization believes keeping them private would make people more likely to report abuse.

In the Oregon case, Boy Scout files made public from the years 1965-1985 revealed a decades-long cover-up, showing that men suspected of abuse were often excluded from leadership positions but rarely turned over to law enforcement. The files also contained accounts of alleged pedophiles allowed to stay in Scouting under pressure from community leaders and local Scouting officials.

Patrick Boyle, who as a journalist was among the first to expose efforts by the Scouts to hide the extent of abuse by their leaders, said the files could show how the Boy Scouts evolved in their response to abuse allegations over the years — or didn't.

"What's potentially powerful about these files is they can give us some idea of how big the problem has been in recent years, and might even give us an idea of whether the abuse prevention efforts by the Scouts have had any impact," said Boyle, who now serves as communications director for the nonprofit Forum for Youth Investment in Washington.

When Ramsey County District Judge Elena Ostby ordered the Scouts in January to give up the files, she also ordered the removal of information that could identify people named in the files.

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