(NEW YORK) — More than 14,000 pages revealing the alleged abuse reported within the Boy Scouts of America were finally released to the public on Thursday as the organization apologized for failing to protect children and punish the adults who had preyed on them.
The Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of the documents, which have been dubbed the “perversion files.” They detail charges and allegations made against 1,200 adults nationwide from 1965 to 1985 and the Boy Scouts’ apparent attempts to either cover up accusations made against the scoutmasters and volunteers, or force them to resign under the pretense that they were too busy to continue with the group.
The records came to light after six former scouts successfully sued the organization in 2010, claiming they were molested by a Boy Scouts leader. They won $20 million in the judgment.
The Boy Scouts tried to prevent the release of the documents but lost in court.
In about a third of the cases, the scouting organization never notified police when they learned about an alleged assault. Because the statute of limitations has lapsed for most of the cases, they cannot be prosecuted.
“Basically, the Boy Scouts turned their eyes away, told the molesters to go away and just hope this doesn’t happen again,” said Patrick Boyle, author of Scouts Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution and a researcher of scout abuse for more than 20 years. “Of course, it kept happening again.”
Many of the accounts are chilling. In one instance, an assistant scoutmaster in Rhode Island was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy.
“He was confronted with the facts and admitted his role in the act,” the documents say. “He [was told] he would no longer be allowed to serve in any adult capacity … and to stay away from Scout X to avoid any further possible trouble.”
There is no mention in the file of the police being contacted.
In another memo, a scouting executive recommends that the organization drop a case against a suspected abuser.
“If it don’t stink, don’t stir it,” the executive says.
“We did not do the job that we should have,” said Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America. “And for that, and for the people hurt … we are profoundly sorry.”
In a further statement, Perry said: “Today, scouting is a leader among youth serving organizations in preventing child abuse. The [Boy Scouts of America] requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse.”
Matt Stewart, who sued the Boy Scouts of America and settled out of court in 2005 after he was sexually abused as a child by his troop leader, said victims’ voices were being heard.
“Today is a victory for all the victims who suffer in silence,” Stewart said.
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