The Boy Scouts have a scandal brewing as decades of information on alleged or confirmed child molesters within the organization will be released over the next few weeks.
The allegations include some cases in which the Boy Scouts helped cover the tracks for the accused volunteers and employees, Reuters reported.
Word of the Boy Scouts scandal first came from the Los Angeles Times, which reported that between 1970 and 1991 there were hundreds of cases where the organization failed to report allegation of sex abuse of scouts by adult leaders. The story involved review of 1,600 internal Boy Scouts files the newspaper obtained.
Many of those files are now set to go public. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in June that 1,200 “ineligible volunteer” files from between 1965 and 1985 will be released. Many of those files were used in a 2010 civil trial where an Oregon jury found the Boy Scouts liable for a pedophile case from the 1980s, awarding nearly $20 million in damages.
The release of the files will be yet another public blow to an institution once trusted and revered by many Americans in the wake of other sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic church and Penn State University, Reuters noted.
The Boy Scouts have released a statement clarifying that current policies require any suspicion of child abuse be reported to authorities, but officials also say the scope of the past abuse won’t match the other high-profile cases.
“In the Catholic Church there were overt cover-ups, and I don’t think you see a lot of that here with the Boy Scouts,” Paul Mones, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff in the Oregon case, told Reuters.
But the Los Angeles Time did uncover some improper conduct in the Boy Scouts scandal. A report from earlier in the summer noted that men accused of sexual abuse were able to find their way back into the program, and in some cases were actively helped by others in the Boy Scouts.
In once case, a Boy Scout camp director in Michigan was accused of repeated abuse, but the man was never reported to police because a Scout staff member believed it would hurt the organization.
“He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet,” according to a police report in the file.
Scouting officials did not respond to the Los Angeles Times‘ request for interviews on the Boy Scout scandal. In a prepared statement, spokesman Deron Smith said, “We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities.”