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History of Scouting Abuse

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA SEXUAL ABUSE

Over 100 Years of Hidden Abuse

SECRET BLACKLIST OF BSA ABUSERS

BSA reports show that since its founding in the early 20th century, leaders of the Boy Scouts of America kept secret files of thousands of sexual abuse cases committed by Scouting leaders and volunteers. 

These files, dubbed "the Perversion Files", are blacklists that hold the names of alleged molesters within the Boy Scouts of America. These records were never released to the public, hidden away for over a century by Scouting officials wanting to maintain the BSA "name".

BSA ABUSE COVER UP HISTORY

Timeline

1910

Boy Scouts of America Founded
The Boy Scouts of America was formed in 1910, modeled after its Britain counterpart the Boy Scout Association.

1920

Blacklist of Volunteer Abusers Created
Around the 1920's the BSA began compiling reports of volunteers considered ineligible to serve in the Boy Scouts due to claims of child sexual abuse.

1935

List of BSA Abusers First Referenced
At a gala honoring the 25th anniversary of the BSA's founding, President Theodore Roosevelt's son gave a speech that referenced Boy Scout "Red Files." Those listening were confused, and thought the BSA were tracking communists. However, the Boy Scouts were not tracking communists. At a separate press conference, the BSA explained were keeping "Red Files" of child molesters in the Boy Scouts. The BSA admitted to removing thousands of abusers from the Boy Scouts already, just by 1935.

1971

Thousands of Perversion Files Destroyed
By 1971, many who work in Scouting did not know that the BSA tracked and kept secret records of sexual abusers in the Boy Scouts. However, Scouting executives admitted to destroying thousands of "Perversion Files"---files naming sexual abusers in the Scouts---if they were deemed "too old" or "outdated." If an abuser was older than 80 years old or likely deceased, the BSA destroyed the sexual abuser's file. 

2007

Start of Sex Abuse Litigation against Boy Scouts
Many tie the explosion of lawsuits filed against the BSA for sexual abuse to a 2007 Oregon case. Six men sued the Boy Scouts, claiming they were abused by a assistant scoutmaster in the 1980's. During this trial, the jury was allowed to read thousands of internal abuse records kept by the BSA. This was the first time a jury or plaintiff was allowed to see the cope of how the BSA mismanaged and hid sexual-misconduct allegations. The case resulted in an award of over $19 million in damages to the plaintiff.

2012

Review of Hidden BSA Sexual Abuse Reports
After the landmark trial, Oregon insisted the files presented as evidence during the trial be released to the public. Investigators reviewed 1,200 secret Boy Scout files dating from 1965 to 1985. Investigators discovered Scouting officials quietly urged sexual offenders in the Scouts to resign instead of reporting them to the police and likely covered the tracks of these predators. In many of the cases investigated by the LA Times there was no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police, and often officials actively sought to conceal the abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it.

2020

Boy Scouts File for Bankruptcy
With thousands of lawsuits against them for child sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing assets up to $10 billion.
PERVERSION FILES

BSA Investigation Findings

BSA DISMISSAL LETTERS COVERED UP ABUSE

The Boy Scouts had to deal with sexual predators so often within the organization that they allegedly created a letter to send to leaders being dismissed over sexual abuse allegations. The form letter said, “We are making no accusations and will not release this information to anyone, so our action in no way will affect your standing in the community.” This allowed predators to continue their patterns of abuse and harm innocent victims all over the country.

SCOUTING ACTIVITIES WERE USED TO ABUSE TRUST

These sexual predators exploited the innocence of children and/or lured them into their trust with illegal activities. In the Perversion Files, hundreds of reports show Scout leaders allowed boys to drive cars, drink alcohol, or look at pornography. As trust continued to build, Boy Scout leaders would test physical boundaries with boys during activities like skinny dipping, group showers, sleepovers, and one-on-one activities.

SCOUTING LEADERS PHYSICALLY ABUSED CHILDREN

Abusive Scouting leaders would continue to pervert boundaries until they abused children in the most horrific ways including masturbation, rape, groping, and fondling. Few of these sexual predators in the Boy Scouts have been punished for their crimes. Because of the Boy Scouts of America's negligence to report abuse and protection for children, sexual predators were allowed to walk free and harm more children.
PERVERSION FILES

Characteristics of BSA Abusers

47%

WERE SINGLE

According to the L.A. Times, at least 47% of the leaders of this organization who were added to the Perversion Files (and most of the time covered up) were single.
50%

DID NOT HAVE CHILDREN IN SCOUTING PROGRAMS

Close to 50% of Scouting leaders accused of abuse did not have a child in any BSA programs.
100%

LEFT ALONE WITH BOYS

The case files show that nearly all the cases arose from situations where troop leaders were alone with the boys, a practice the BSA officially prohibited in 1987.
Abused in Scouting Abuse Map
NATIONWIDE SCOUTING ABUSE

Reported Incidents of Sexual Abuse

Specific examples of sexual abuse committed by Boy Scout leaders uncovered by the LA Times in their 2012 report include the following horrific reports:

1982

A Michigan Boy Scout director failed to report allegations of sexual abuse by one of its staff members because he wanted to protect both the organization and the abuser. In the police report, “[H]e stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet.” This could have further damaged his victims and potentially allowed this predator to continue to find new victims.

1982

A Virginia Boy Scout director reported to the Boy Scout’s legal counsel that he suspected a veteran employee of the Boy Scout camp exhibited a “lifelong pattern” of sexual abuse, but the organization failed to report the issue and simply encouraged this predator to leave on his own free will.

1976

A Pennsylvania Scout Master was accused of two rapes and other sex crimes by five boy scouts. His punishment was a simple resignation on his own free will and was wished well by the organization.

1987

In Washington state, a district executive of the Boy Scouts complained to the national office of the Boy Scouts of America that another member of the Boy Scouts leadership had failed to put a convicted molester on the blacklist because he was a nice guy, ensuring his access to young boys in his care.

1990

A Maryland Boy Scout leader was given six weeks to resign when he told the Boy Scouts that the abuse allegations against him were true. He was allowed to resign as long as he kept the fact that he abused children in his care confidential and only known to the Boy Scouts of America: not to the authorities, not to the families of his victims, but only to the Boy Scouts.

1984

In California, a Los Angeles Scout Leader was caught by authorities with hundreds of photos of naked boy scouts – many showing him giving enemas to the boys. The organization jumped into damage control and kept the case from becoming public and embarrassing the Scouts.

1987

In Wisconsin, a high-ranking Scout leader in Milwaukee admitted to masturbating while fondling two boys. The Boy Scouts of America worked diligently to keep the incident out of the press, allowing this leader to continue to work with children until 2001 in connection with his medical practice.

1990

In Pennsylvania, a Scout Leader was charged with molesting three children through his links to the Boy Scouts in the previous two years and later pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and sexual abuse of children.

1981

An assistant scoutmaster in Los Angeles was convicted of sexual abuse. It was later discovered that he admitted to having sex with more than 50 boys, many of whom were cub scouts.
SCOUTING ABUSE

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LIST OF CONFIRMED BSA ABUSERS

Look through our list of confirmed child sex abusers in the Boy Scouts of America.
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MAP OF REPORTED ABUSE LOCATIONS

Our clients reported specific locations where BSA child sex abuse happened. 
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SCOUTING PROGRAMS

Child abuse happened in not just the Scouts BSA, but other programs the BSA ran and supported.
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CALIFORNIA SCOUTING 
ABUSE

New statute of limitations open new opportunities for California Scouting abuse survivors to pursue justice.
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