Boy Scouts of America sex abuse cases

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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with 2.7 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers.[1]

There were 2,000 reported cases of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America prior to 1994, and at least one abuse incident as recent as 2006.[2][3] The high risk of volunteer youth organizations has been recognized,[4] and in 1988, the BSA created a sex abuse education and prevention program in the 1980s called the Youth Protection program to help address the problem.[5][6]

In 2010, a jury ordered that the Scouts pay $18.5 million to a Scout who was abused in the 1980s—it was the largest punitive damages award to a single plaintiff in a child abuse case in the US.[7]

1988 Youth Protection program[edit]

Like most youth-organizations, the BSA has struggled with the problem of sex abuse and how to handle abuse allegations. J.L. Tarr, a Chief Scout Executive in the 1980s, said regarding sexual assault cases against Scout leaders across all 50 states: "That's been an issue since the Boy Scouts began.”[4] Several reports have surfaced over the years regarding incidents of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America to include incidents of repeat offenders.[8][9] There have also been several high profile court cases that resulted in convictions and settlements involving such incidents.[8][9]

In the 1980s, BSA developed its Youth Protection program, a comprehensive program to educate and prevent abuse. A centerpiece of the program is the "Two deep" leadership criterion which dictates that no adult can ever be alone with any members. Before joining, a member must discuss with their parents a pamphlet on sexual abuse. The Youth Protection Plan from the organization is linked to a CDC report on such programs.[10]

Kenneth Lannings, the FBI agent who helped develop the BSA's Youth Protection Plan, wrote that "A skilled pedophile who can get children into a situation where they must change clothing or stay with him overnight will almost always succeed in seducing them".[11]

BSA adopted the following policies to provide additional barriers to child abuse within Scouting. These policies are primarily for the protection of its youth members; however, they also serve to protect its adult leaders from false accusations of abuse.

  • Two-deep leadership. Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The "two-deep" policy requires that a minimum of two adults be present during all activities to minimize the potential for clandestine abuse.[12] The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.
  • No one-on-one contact. One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster's conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.
  • Respect of privacy. Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.
  • Separate accommodations. When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian. Councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. When separate facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers.
  • Proper preparation for high-adventure activities. Activities with elements of risk should never be undertaken without proper preparation, equipment, clothing, supervision, and safety measures.
  • No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
  • Appropriate attire. Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of Scouting.
  • Constructive discipline. Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting's values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
  • Hazing prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
  • Junior leader training and supervision. Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.

The plan has been criticized for not making criminal background checks a requirement for all volunteers until 2008, and that failure to require those allowed additional child molesters into the organization.[13][14]

1991 Washington Times investigation[edit]

In May 1991, the Washington Times published a major five-part investigation entitled “Scouts Honor” on sex abuse in the BSA. Staff from the newspaper had worked for two years preparing the series, reviewing internal and personnel records from the Boy Scouts; court records from more than 20 states; and more than 1,000 newspaper articles; as well as interviewing more than 200 people, including molesters, families of victims, Scout leaders, sex abuse experts and lawyers. The newspaper restricted itself to reported cases of male Scout leaders abusing Boy Scouts before the introduction of its Youth Protection program. In summation, they wrote “The Boy Scouts are a magnet for men who want to have sexual relations with children...Pedophiles join the Scouts for a simple reason: it’s where the boys are.”[4]

The series drew on three sources:

  • Historical “confidential files” (formerly known as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files”) within Scout records, with details on 231 Scout leaders banned from Scouting for sexual misconduct from 1975 through 1984.
  • 50 lawsuits against the Scouts by families of molested boys from around the US.
  • A list from the BSA of more than 350 men banned for sexual misconduct from 1971 to 1986.

The newspaper discovered that 1,151 Scouts reported being abused by their leaders during the studied 19-year period, mostly before the implementation of the Youth Protection Plan. They published a detailed list of 416 cases from 1971–1990 where a US Scout leader was arrested or banned from Scouting for sexual abuse of Scouts, adding that experts said the real number of abusers and victims was probably several times higher. The newspaper articles later formed the basis for a book by the main journalist involved, Patrick Boyle: Scout's Honor: Sexual Abuse in America's Most Trusted Institution.

The series, written shortly after the inception of BSA's Youth Protection program, concluded that "After decades of shying away from the problem, the Scouts have created what many child abuse experts call one of the best sex abuse education programs in the country. The program teaches boys, leaders and parents about resisting, recognizing and reporting abuse." [4]

Legal actions[edit]

A number of lawsuits have resulted. A study of 50 lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America showed that from 1986 to 1991 BSA and local councils agreed to pay more than $15 million in damages. According to federal tax returns, BSA payments to one law firm in Miami working on abuse cases were more than one-half million dollars; the BSA insurance reserve, from which the damages are paid, stood at $61.9 million.[4]

The actual payment total, said the Washington Times in 1991, is probably far higher because the Scouts sometimes agree to pay damages only if the payments are kept secret. Keeping damage awards confidential is commonly required by insurers.

In August 2007, the Washington state Supreme Court ordered BSA to hand over documents concerning sexual abuse by Scout leaders. These documents showed that the organization removes about 180 of its leaders each year, although most of these removals have to do with other issues besides child abuse. [15]

2010 Lewis v. Boys Scouts of America et al.[edit]

Lewis v. Boys Scouts of America et al. [16] was a case filed in Multnomah County, Oregon, by Kerry Lewis, a former member of the BSA who alleged having been abused by former scout leader Timur Dykes in the 1980s.[17] In 1983, Timur Dykes had confessed to the local BSA co-ordinator that he had molested 17 Boy Scouts,[18] but was allowed to continue working with the Scouts where, attorneys argued, he subsequently abused Lewis.[7][19]

In 2010, the jury on the case held in favor of the plaintiff and ordered that the Scouts pay $18.5 million as punishment for their actions—the largest punitive damages awarded to a single plaintiff in a child abuse case in the US.[7]

Kelly Clark, an attorney representing the abused scout, had alleged the BSA failed to properly handle the abuse, saying "We saw numerous examples of the Scouts writing to law enforcement saying 'it would be best for the good of Scouting if this could avoid being made too public.'" [7]

Some observers said the case "could have a snowball effect in much the same way high-profile molestation suits against the Roman Catholic Church had".[20] Patrick Boyle, author of Scout's Honor: Sexual Abuse in America's Most Trusted Institution, was quoted as commenting "Until this case, the Boy Scouts of America had managed to keep these cases largely underwater nationally. All of a sudden, it's gotten blown out of the water and the public knows that the Scouts have had this problem, too -- just like the Catholic Church."[20]

The trial provided a rare opportunity for an American jury to view confidential files held by BSA, although BSA had fought to keep the files secret. They showed BSA knowledge of abuse dated back to the 1920s.[20] Reports said that in the US, the Scouts settled about 60 similar historic cases out of court over recent years.[7]

2012 Release of "Ineligible Volunteer" files[edit]

Since the 1920s, the BSA has maintained a highly confidential set of "ineligible volunteer" files, nicknamed the "perversion files".[21] On October 19, 2012, the Boy Scouts of America were forced by court order to release over 20,000 pages of documentation on 1200 alleged child sexual abuse cases within the organization, covering the time period from 1965 to 1985.[22]

It has been alleged that BSA may have helped cover-up the abuse cases, sometimes with the aid of police and other officials, "to protect the good name and good works of Scouting."[23] The reports showed incidents where accused abusers were allowed to continue in the Scouts, and in more than a third of the cases covered in the documents, information about the allegations were not passed on to police.[23]

A recently released letter by a Louisiana BSA executive to the BSA's national personnel division revealed: "This subject and Scouts were not prosecuted to save the name of Scouting." [23][24] The files revealed cases of collusion between the BSA and the Justice System, as in a 1962 Johnston PA case[25] where a BSA leader pleaded guilty to "serious morals" violations involving Scouts. A local Scouting executive learned of the abuse from a member of the local executive board who served as both mayor and police chief. Newspapers failed to report the connection to the scouts because, as the executive wrote to BSA national's personnel division in explanation, "No mention of Scouting was involved in the case in as much as two of the three judges who pronounced sentence are members of our Executive Board".[26] Among the files include a 1972 BSA executive writing "I would like to let this case drop ... One father has threatened legal action which could only injure the Boy Scouts of America. My personal opinion in this particular case is, ‘If it don’t stink, don’t stir it.’” [27][28]

Supporters of the BSA are quick to point out that the cases discussed in the files occurred prior to 1985. Critics, meanwhile, point out that as of 2012, the BSA has refused to release those files dating from after 1985.[29] A Texas judge has ordered the release of the post-1985 files, but the BSA is currently in the process of appealing to avoid that release.[29] A Minnesota district judge has also ordered the released.[30] A California judge has similarly ordered the release of more files, and the California state supreme court has denied an appeal from the BSA.[31] A BSA spokesman commented that "The BSA believes confidentiality of the Files helps to encourage prompt reporting of abuse"[32]

Specific cases[edit]

  • Joe Gibson, a former Scoutmaster in the St. Petersburg, Florida area, was convicted in June 1982.[33]
  • Lee Pontius, former Daytona Beach, Florida area Scoutmaster, and current Silver Beaver honoree, was convicted multiple times of molesting Boy Scouts, including on a November 1982 camping trip.[34]
  • Martin Turner, a leader in Texas, pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of indecency with a child by contact and one count of attempted indecency with a child by contact. He had abused two children in cases going back up to 40 years.[35]
  • David McDonald Rankin, a former Scoutmaster in College Park, Maryland, was convicted for abusing Scouts between 1984 and 1987.[36]
  • Gary Lee Gephart, a former Cub Scout leader in Oceanside, California, was convicted in 1996.[37]
  • Howard W. Curtis, a Haverhill, Massachusetts leader, pled guilty in May 2008 for acts occurring in the 1980s.[38]
  • James Hiatt, a former Boy Scout leader in Texas, was convicted in May 2008 for abuse that took place from about 2003 to 2005.[39][40]
  • Brad Stowell confessed to molesting 24 boys from 1989 until his arrest in 1997. Authorities working at the camp were warned numerous times during his employment. In 1988, at age 16, Stowell had previously admitted to police that he molested a 6-year-old, which Scout officials were also aware of.[41]
  • Gary Wade Brown, a former Boy Scout Leader in Orem, Utah, in 2009 pled guilty to four counts of sexual abuse of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree felonies, and one count of lewdness involving a child, a Class A misdemeanor. Seven additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. The abuse involved a 12-year-old boy and took place between 2005 and 2006.[3]
  • Charles Donald Corley, a Boy Scout volunteer in Birmingham, Alabama, was convicted for sexual abuse against three young men in 1995.[42][43]
  • Richard Turley, a former volunteer in California, was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Canadian scout. After 18 months, he was released from a mental institution and went right back to work, beginning his volunteer work at a California scout camp. In 1979, he assaulted three of those scouts. Upon learning this, Boy Scouts of American simply told Turley to return to Canada, not warning Scouts Canada of Turley’s criminal behavior. In 1996, Turley went on to assault four boys, three of which were scouts, in Victoria, British Columbia. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.[44]
  • James Molyneaux, 2004, a former Boy Scout leader and 6th-grade English school teacher in Portville, New York, was arrested in connection to an abuse case of a 13-year-old in July 1997 at a campground owned by the Molyneaux family that was used for scouting activities and another case of an 11-year-old at his home in Portville, NY in September 2000. Although Molyneaux denied the charges, at trial he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree sodomy, two counts of second-degree sodomy, and one count of first-degree sexual abuse. Molyneaux is currently serving 17 1/2 to 23 years with a maximum sentence of 57 years in the Clinton Correctional Facility. The state has denied his appeal [45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2011 Report to the Nation". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ Outline of Patrick Boyle book Scouts Honor. University of Maryland website.
  3. ^ a b "Former Orem Boy Scout Leader Sentenced", by Janice Peterson, Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, August 18, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e Patrick, Boyle (1991). "Scouts Honor". The Washington Times. 
  5. ^ "Youth Protection Guidelines". Rivertrails.cac.tripod.com. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  6. ^ "Youth Protection Reminder | Mt. Diablo Silverado Council". Bsa-mdsc.org. 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Sexual abuse scandal rocks Boy Scouts of America after $18.5m payout: Organisation accused of cover-up as it seeks to keep thousands of 'perversion files' secret", by Chris McGreal, guardian.co.uk, 29 April 2010 20.02 BST. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
  8. ^ a b Barrick, Frances (June 26, 2012). "Pain continues for family of boy abused by scout leader". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Felch, Jason; Christensen, Kim (August 5, 2012). "Boy Scout files reveal repeat child abuse by sexual predators". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ Janet Saul and Natalie C. Audage (2007). "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures" (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. pp. 1–55. Retrieved November 18, 2010. 
  11. ^ Kenneth V. Lanning, Child Sex Rings: A Behavioral Analysis, 1987.
  12. ^ forensiceducation.com Accessed June 16, 2008.
  13. ^ Robbins, Christopher (December 2, 2012). "Boy Scouts' Refusal To Conduct Background Checks Led To Staggering Amount Of Sexual Abuse". Gothamist. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  14. ^ Felch, Jason; Christensen, Kim (2012-12-02). "Boy Scouts' opposition to background checks let pedophiles in - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  15. ^ "Boy Scouts' secret "degenerate" files revealed". London: Yahoo news / Planet Out. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  16. ^ Morlan, Kent (2010-04-24). "Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, et al". Morelaw.com. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  17. ^ "Files Logging Scout Abuse Are a Focus in Civil Trial", by William Yardley, March 17, 2010, NY Times.
  18. ^ "$1.4 million verdict in Boy Scout abuse case". NBC News. April 13, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  19. ^ "$18.5 Million, Punitives Against the Boy Scouts of America". Bad Lawyer NYC. April 24, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  20. ^ a b c Green, Aimee (April 13, 2010). "Portland sex abuse verdict leaves Boy Scouts vulnerable to more lawsuits". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  21. ^ "Boy Scouts ordered to pay Oregon man Kerry Lewis $18.5M in sex abuse case". New York: NY Daily News. April 24, 2010. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  22. ^ Goodale, Gloria. (October 19, 2012) "Boy Scouts child abuse files: Can the organization withstand their release?" MinnPost. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  23. ^ a b c "Locals helped Boy Scouts cover up pedophilia" The Charleston Gazette. October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  24. ^ "TS/MS/KS v. BSA, et al." (PDF). Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  25. ^ "Johnston PA case file (PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  26. ^ "Locals helped Boy Scouts cover up pedophilia". The Charleston Gazette. October 19, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  27. ^ "The ‘Perversion Files' of the Boy Scouts Come to Light". The New York Times. October 19, 2012. 
  28. ^ http://4375a6279342a3f4be11-cdccd2befed3f607afb3bb5ced5cc094.r24.cf1.rackcdn.com/0286.pdf
  29. ^ a b "Lawyers release files on alleged Boy Scout abuse, call for Congress audit". CNN. October 18, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  30. ^ Minnesota judge orders release of more confidential Boy Scout records on sexual abuse
  31. ^ California Supreme Court denies Scouts' bid to halt files' release
  32. ^ Christensen, Kim (December 14, 2012). "Court upholds order requiring Boy Scouts to release files". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  33. ^ "Scout Leader Sentenced 15 Years for Molesting", Sarasota Herald Tribune, June 13, 1982.
  34. ^ "Former Scoutmaster Placed on Probation"
  35. ^ "Former Scouts Leader Sentenced for Indecency with a Child", Texas Cable News, December 22, 2008.
  36. ^ "Former Scout Leader Sentenced for Abuse", Associated Press via Lewiston [ME] Journal and Google, February 9, 1988.
  37. ^ "Ex-scout Leader Gets Maximum for Molestations", Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1996.
  38. ^ "Ex Boy Scout Leader Admits to Rape", by Sally Jacobs, Boston Globe, May 8, 2008.
  39. ^ "Local sex abuse victim says Boy Scouts knew the danger", KENS-TV, San Antonio, February 24, 2011.
  40. ^ "Former boy scout files suit over molestation", Express News, February 23, 2011.
  41. ^ Zuckerman, Peter. "Scout's Honor". Idaho Falls Post Register. Retrieved 2012. 
  42. ^ "Youth Leader Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse and Sodomy", The Birmingham News, August 29, 2005.
  43. ^ "30 is 30, An advocacy site for victims of Charles Donald Corley"
  44. ^ "Scout leaders had concern about pedophile's behaviour before crimes revealed", The Gazette, October 28, 2011.
  45. ^ Eberth, John T. (2008-06-24). "State Appeals Court declines to review Portville man’s molestation conviction - Olean Times Herald: News - State Appeals Court declines to review Portville man’s molestation conviction : News". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 

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