Boy Scouts Secrets Uncovered: Over 12,000 Identified Sexual Assault Victims
Boy Scout Oath:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
For the Boy Scouts of America’s many victims of sexual abuse, that oath rings hollow. The organization continues to be slammed with lawsuits not only for the sexual abuse of the boys in its care, but for decades of covering it up.
Two weeks ago, ABC News updated the number of sexual abuse victims from the once-revered Boy Scouts of America. While reports of sexual abuse within the organization aren’t new, the alarming number of victims and perpetrators released are: ABC News identified 7,819 perpetrators as having abused up to 12,254 victims from 1944 to 2016.
A History of Sexual Abuse
Two weeks ago, New York attorney Jeff Anderson released the deposition testimony of Dr. Janet Warren, a professor at the University of Virginia Medical School. Warren testified that the Boy Scouts of America hired her to help review their sexual abuse files.
For five years, Warren looked into the Boy Scouts’ “ineligible volunteer files” (also referred to as the “perversion” files) and found several undisclosed cases of child sexual abuse within the organization. These files contained thousands of letters, internal incident reports, and a list of individuals whose Boy Scouts registrations were revoked due to allegations of sexual abuse. Warren also found several cases that the Boy Scouts failed to report to the police.
In 2012, The Los Angeles Times published a list of 5,000 people accused of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts before 2005. However, Warren’s testimony reveals that abuse by Boy Scout leaders is more prevalent than we had previously thought. The organization is currently under fire for refusing to publish the list of perpetrators’ names.
Lawsuits Against Boy Scouts of America
While the Boy Scouts of America has faced several accusations over the course of its 109-year history, there may be no coming back this time.
In 2010, a jury found the organization liable for $18.5 million in damages in a sexual abuse case. Former Boy Scout, Kerry Lewis, was abused by an assistant troop leader in the early 80’s when he was still a minor. While most of the Scouts’ abuse cases were privately settled, the 2010 case was the largest verdict against the organization at the time.
Although Boy Scouts CEO, Michael Surbaugh, has issued many seemingly sincere apologies —even stating that the organization will pay for unlimited counseling sessions for its victims—charges against the organization continue to accumulate.
The organization is already dealing with several hundred lawsuits and is expected to be hit with more over the next few months. The sexual abuse, and the lawsuits arising from it, may bankrupt the Boy Scouts of America.
A 109-Year Old Organization Crumbling
The Boy Scouts of America claims that it created the “perversion” files to prevent sexual offenders from volunteering with the organization again. They also argue that they implemented thorough background checks on all staff and volunteers and did the best they could to prevent sexual abuse.
However, as Dr. Warren stated in her testimony, “criminal records checks and sexual offender registries simply based on criminal convictions are inadequate to protect against offenders who have never been arrested or convicted.” The organization, for decades, has failed to report cases and alert the public. For all these years, they’ve kept their files secret at the expense of not only protecting their Scouts, but also the community at large.
If you or a loved one have been victim to child sexual abuse that occurred within an organization such as Boy Scouts of America, we are sorry to hear it. We hope this article has been helpful. You are not alone.
By: Jenny A. Kafer