A recent article in the LA Times revealed that the Boy Scouts of America protected scores of men accused of abusing boys, going back as far as the 1970s. In some cases, the BSA hid the information from the authorities, and even used their connections to keep the allegations from breaking news in local communities just to protect the alleged abusers’ reputations:
Over two decades, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.
A Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.
Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to leave citing bogus reasons such as business demands, “chronic brain dysfunction” and duties at a Shakespeare festival.
The details are contained in the organization’s confidential “perversion files,” a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts’ lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.
As The Times reported in August, the blacklist often didn’t work: Men expelled for alleged abuses slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again. Now, a more extensive review has shown that Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.
In the majority of cases, the Scouts learned of alleged abuse after it had been reported to authorities. But in more than 500 instances, the Scouts learned about it from boys, parents, staff members or anonymous tips.
In about 400 of those cases — 80% — there is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.
It gets much worse. In 2010, the BSA instituted a policy requiring anyone affiliated with the group to report suspected abuse to local authorities. However, prior to that, the policy was only to obey state laws, which often did not happen. Instead, the BSA kept many cases confidential “because of misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed.”
One can see why considering some of the cases reported in the article. In one case, Arthur Humphries abused dozens of boys. When one of the boys came forward in 1978, the BSA did not report Humphries. Instead, they allowed him to remain with the Scouts, and two years later gave him ringing endorsements when he applied for a position at a national Scouting event. Humphries remained with the BSA until 1984 when he was arrested and sentenced to 151 years in prison. However, by that time he has abused at least 20 boys, and coerced one of his previous victims to help him abuse other kids.
In another case, when a scoutmaster caught a boy performing oral sex on William Lazzareschi, no police were called. Instead, Reverend Edmond C. Micarelli, the camp’s Catholic chaplain, counseled the victim, but recommended that no one tell the boy’s parents about the abuse. About 20 years later, Micarelli was also placed on the blacklist after allegations were brought against him. In 2002, the Church paid out $13.5 million to three dozen victims of Micarelli and 10 other priests.
Perhaps the worst example of the cover up is this:
When a Los Angeles Scout leader was caught by police with hundreds of photos of naked Scouts in 1984 — many showing him giving enemas to boys — Scouting officials worked closely with police and the county children services department to keep the case from becoming public and embarrassing the Scouts.
A summary of a meeting between Scouting officials and local agencies contained this conclusion: “We recognize that this unfortunate situation was no reflection on the Boy Scouts of America whose integrity and reputation must be maintained.”
I am sure plenty of people will play the “this is why we need women in positions of power” game with this, but if you look at the reasons the BSA did all of this, it all comes back to them protecting their own interests and reputations. We see this time and time again. Instead of caring for the kids these people are charged to protect, they worry more about how the abuse will make them look.
Here is a thought: if you do not want to look bad, treat sexual abuse against boys seriously. When you hear a report about a man abusing a scout, report him to the police. Make sure everyone knows who he is so that if he abused any other kids, those boys can come forward. Let the police do their job and investigate. If the man is innocent, you can always remove the false accuser the Scouts. If the accusation is credible (which it most likely is), it will look like you actually care about the boys in the BSA, and that will not hurt your reputation. Rather, it will scare future abusers because they will be more wary of being caught and convicted.
That will help your reputation much more than hiding men who rape kids.