Boy Scouts of America is now facing their biggest scandal yet: Nearly 8,000 Scout leaders stand accused of sexually abusing over 12,000 children. And that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Rumors about rampant abuse within the Scouts have been circulating for quite some time, but recently revealed court documents show that the problem is far more widespread than anyone could have imagined. According to reports, Boy Scout sex abuse has been going on for many decades, and has been covered up for just as long.
An estimated 2.4 million children take part in Boy Scouts every year — and for far too many of them, it will be at their own peril. Thousands of children have come forward and made reports over the years, but how many more suffered in silence?
Decades of abuse, swept under the rug
As WSB TV reports, court documents show that Scout leaders have been accused of pedophilia and sex abuse since the 1940s. To make matters worse, it appears as though the organization has long been aware of these unconscionable actions, and has not taken appropriate action. According to WSB TV, the wave of allegations comes from a New York legal firm, which revealed names related to cases in another district.
The damning testimony came from an auditor hired by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) themselves. Jane Warren, a professor from the University of Virginia, was hired by BSA to survey the organization’s sexual abuse files. And at a recent court proceeding, she was asked to testify.
The secret sex abuse file contains complaints dating back over 100 years. Apparently, BSA kept a record of Scout leaders with “reasonable allegations” of sex abuse and were banned from working directly with kids.
The report indicates 7,819 Scout leaders have been accused of abuse and 12,254 children were victimized.
How many victims?
It is impossible to know how many instances of abuse have gone unreported. Natalie Woodward, an Atlanta-area attorney representing nearly two dozen Scout victims, says it is important for people to remember that each leader accused likely represents multiple children harmed.
“That’s the part I think that will shake anybody to their core to hear that. And then to think it took until 2019 to get into the open,” she said.
Jeff Anderson, attorney to another plaintiff, said in a recent news conference that this list may still not be complete “because all of the files haven’t been excavated.”
According to Anderson, “This is far from a full disclosure of what the Boy Scouts actually knew.”
As sources note, BSA has previously given estimates on sex abuse within the organization that were dramatically lower than Warren’s report reveals. Now, many suspect that the Scouts knew sexual abuse was rampant and was simply turning a blind eye to it.
As NPR reports, BSA filed suit against six of its insurers last year, after they refused to cover BSA’s sexual abuse liabilities. The insurance companies said that because BSA does not take “meaningful precautionary action,” their coverage is invalid.
BSA has also faced criticism for failing to provide meaningful information to communities about their proximity to child predators.
“The fact is that the Boy Scouts of America have never actually released these names in any form that can be known to the public and they may have removed them from scouting, they may have kept them in their perversion file — but they never alerted the community,” Anderson said.
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