Take The Boy Scouts Of America To Task For Abuse

The evidence is undeniable: the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have had a major problem with sexual abuse and in particular with deviants infiltrating the ranks of its employees and volunteers. This problem is of the Boy Scouts’ own making — caused in large part by inadequate child protection policies and by the woefully inept and negligent handling of individual sexual abuse allegations. Nearly thirty years ago, a former Chief Scout Executive was quoted by media as saying that the sexual abuse of Boy Scouts by Scoutmasters and other adult volunteers has “been an issue since the Boy Scouts began” in 1910.

In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the large number of sexual abuse lawsuits that had been filed and would likely be filed by Scouts sexually abused as children by BSA’s leaders and volunteers. The Bankruptcy Court is expected to distribute the bulk of the Boy Scouts’ assets to survivors of sexual abuse by its adult volunteers, including to those who have never filed a lawsuit before.

The BSA’s History Of Hiding Sexual Misconduct

But how did child sexual abuse become such a widespread problem in a well-known and generally respected organization?

In an effort to protect the national Boy Scouts organization, numerous sexual abuse complaints were quietly handled, or rather, mishandled, by the Scouts’ internal leadership at both the local and national levels. The allegations were almost never disclosed to law enforcement officials by BSA, even when the law required BSA local and national leaders to do so. This led to the sexual abuse of countless boys even after a volunteer was identified as a serial sexual abuser by BSA officials.

Shockingly, the attorneys at Horowitz Law have even handled cases where an adult volunteer was criminally convicted of sexually abusing Scouts in one state and later allowed to volunteer with BSA troops in another state. Why? Because the Boy Scouts did not require background checks for its Scoutmasters and adult volunteers until 2008, long after even the Catholic Dioceses of America required all of its employees and volunteers to undergo routine background checks.

Also contributing the problem of sexual abuse was the Boy Scouts’ failure to enact consistent child protection protocols until the 1980s, and then almost never updating them again despite changes in the understanding of how child predators access and abuse children.

Additionally, the Boy Scouts compounded these problems by maintaining secret files documenting the sexual misconduct of scout leaders and volunteers, sometimes referred to as “ineligible volunteer (IV) files” or “perversion files.” In 2012, the Boy Scouts were court-ordered to release documents relating to more than 1200 allegations of abuse received by the national headquarters between 1965 and 1985 – and that disclosure amounted to more than 20,000 pages of documents for that relatively short period of time.

Why Victims Are Afraid To Come Forward

A Boy Scout is taught from his earliest days as a member to obey, to respect and to admire his Scoutmaster. From the overnight hikes to extended camping trips, boys and their parents place immense trust in Scout Leaders and adult volunteers. It is this very trust that is exploited by those who sexually abuse the children they are supposed to be protecting. As with other victims of childhood sexual abuse by trusted adults, many victims do not come forward and report their abuse until several decades later. As children, Scouts fear retaliation, not being believed, being punished by their parents, or being ostracized from their troop. Shame, guilt, and embarrassment about the abuse only serve to keep them silent well into adulthood.

Ask Us About Holding The BSA Accountable

We handle sexual abuse cases against the Boy Scouts of America at both the local and national level in your state and nationwide. If you or someone you know was molested during their participation in the Boy Scouts, send us an email or call us toll-free at 954-641-2100 now. Strict filing deadlines have been set by the United States Bankruptcy Court. Do not risk missing out on your very last chance to hold the Boy Scouts accountable for its misconduct and deliberate decisions to put boys like you at risk.