History of Scouting Abuse


BSA Kept Secret Sexual Abuse Records For Over 100 Years

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

In 2012, investigators reviewed 1,600 of these files dating from 1970 to 1991. According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators found that Scouting officials quietly urged sexual offenders in the Scouts to resign instead of reporting them to the police. Further, the Scouts 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.

Boy Scouts of America leaders allegedly created a system to keep and ensure confidential files of all of BSA sexual abusers were never discovered. 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.

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.

Abusive Scouting leaders would continue to pervert these 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.

Patterns of Abuse



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.


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


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

Reported Incidents of Sexual Abuse by Boy Scout Leaders

Specific examples uncovered by the LA times are as follows:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


In Rhode Island, an assistant troop leader was caught with a 12-year-old scout performing oral sex on him behind a tent. The troop leader admitted his role in the act and was expelled from the scouts. Later in 1997, this same assistant scout leader was convicted of sexual assault and subsequently convicted in 2005 of possession of child pornography. The abused boy underwent counseling with the camp’s Catholic chaplain, and upon his recommendations, the victim’s parents were not notified. The chaplain was later blacklisted in 1990 from the Scouts based on accusations of multiple counts of rapes. In 2002, the Diocese of Providence paid $13.5 million to 36 victims who sued the Chaplain and ten other priests because of allegations of sexual abuse dating back to at least 1975. The Boy Scouts of America failed to report these abusers to authorities, allowing this pattern of abuse to continue.


A Virginia Boy Scout leader was arrested acting on a tip to police and was convicted of abusing 20 different boy scouts in his care over a number of years - some as young as eight years old. Although at the time of the arrest the Boy Scouts of America denied any suspicions, the L.A. times reported that the organization had knowledge at least six years before in 1978 from a sworn statement of a 12-year-old boy alleging abuse. But the organization did nothing. It continued to place him in a position of trust, even writing letters of recommendation for National Scouting events where he undoubtedly would gain more access to potential victims.


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.


In Texas, a scoutmaster was convicted of sexual abuse through the testimony of 16 boy scouts and was sentenced to life in prison.


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.


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.

Learn More


Look through our list of confirmed child sex abusers in the Boy Scouts of America.
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Our clients reported specific locations where BSA child sex abuse happened. 
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New statute of limitations open new opportunities for California Scouting abuse survivors to pursue justice.
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