It’s long been known that some Boy Scout leaders used the organization to gain access to and sexually abuse children, but a new analysis outlining the scope of the problem and is inspiring new waves of revulsion toward one of the oldest and largest youth organizations in the country.
From 1944 to 2016, the Boy Scouts concealed the names of 7,819 perpetrators who abused 12,254 victims, according to an analysis of so-called “perversion files” kept by the organization.
Janet Warren, a psychiatry professor at the University of Virginia and an expert on sexual abuse, spent five years reviewing those files, which contained detailed information on volunteers barred from the group after “reasonable allegations of child sexual abuse.”
That many scouting leaders were involved in the abuse of children isn’t exactly news, but Warren’s work detailing how pervasive these instances were is giving a new sense of scale to the scandal.
After apologizing to the victims, the Boy Scouts said in a statement that “Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in scouting, and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”
The organization also pointed out that it did keep perpetrators from working with youth, and that it has paid for “unlimited counseling” for victims along with a toll-free hotline for victims to call. It also said that at this point every account of suspected abused has been reported to law enforcement agencies.
Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who often represents victims of child sexual abuse, wasn’t buying it. “They may have removed them from scouting. They may have kept them in their perversion file, but they never alerted the community.”
Anderson spoke at a press conference in New York after that state passed a law allowing prosecutors to bring criminal charges for child sex abuse until the victim is 28. It also opened a one-year “look back window” for victims to pursue civil cases no matter many years have passed since the abuse.
Update: In a press conference “to Address Youth Protection”, Dr. Warren stated that 100 percent of all cases reported over the last 50 years were reported to law enforcement.