A court-ordered release of the Boy Scout’s so-called “perversion files” lists 25 men in Washington state. The complete files identify more than 1,200 Scout volunteers who were accused of child abuse and banned from the organization. These once-secret documents give the pubic an unprecedented look inside the scouting organization.
The Portland, Oregon law firm O’Donnell, Clark & Crew put the documents online Thursday. The website was immediately slammed. For several hours, attempts to search the data ended with a message to try again later.
Attorney Steve Crew says he’s certain some of that web traffic is coming from former boy scouts and their parents. He says these files are linked more than 6,000 victims of sexual child abuse between the years 1965 and 1985. Twenty-four of the alleged abusers worked with Scout troops in Washington, mostly in the Seattle area.
Boy Scouts of America found out about some of the abuse through parents and scouts. The group created the “perpetrator list” in an effort to keep those volunteers out of its ranks.
But sometimes the men relocated to a different group and the abuse continued there unchecked. The Scouts also failed to report abuse allegations to authorities.
In an online statement, the president of the Boy Scouts apologized and called the group’s past response to these incidents “plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong.”
In 2008, the Scouts started requiring background checks for all volunteers. It also now reports all suspected incidents of child abuse to the police.
But Crew warns he still sees new complaints and lawsuits, so he has this advice for parents of potential boy scouts: “Verify. Make sure you know who the scoutmaster is. Make sure you know they’ve done a criminal background check.”