Boy Scouts' Files Show Decades of Abuse
Thousands of confidential files containing sexual abuse allegations within the Boy Scouts of America were released to the public Thursday. After names of the accused were released, victims across the country started to come forward.
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The Associated Press reports more than 20,000 documents have been released, identifying Scout leaders and volunteers banned from the organization after allegations of abuse. There are 83 cases in Western New York alone.
"When we all think of the Boy Scouts, we all have such wonderful visions in our heads and that's how it should be, but you have some people attracted to programs that have children easily accessible so they can prey on them," said Mary Whittier, Bivona Child Advocacy Center.
The Boy Scouts of America starting keeping these so-called "perversion files" as a way to keep abusers from returning as volunteers.
“Child sexual abuse does happen and it probably happens more than people think,” Whittier said.
But these allegations were kept secret and in most cases unreported. There are pages of reports detailing boys in Rochester troops who were sexually abused. The Scouts argued confidentiality was needed to protect victim's privacy and encourage others to come forward.
"Agencies keeping it secret because they think it would prevent people from coming forward is exactly what these offenders are doing to these kids in the first place. They're making them be ashamed of how they were victimized," said Sara Vanstrydonck, Assistant District Attorney.
The "ineligible volunteer files" from 1965 to 1985 were released by an order of the Oregon Supreme Court after attorney Kelly Clark won an $18.5 million settlement in a case where a Scoutmaster abused his client. There's now a push to release files from more recent years.
"If you're continuing to fight the release of more recent files, you must have something to hide,” Clark said.
Experts say there's also an obvious pattern, known as grooming.
"90% are molested by someone they know, love and trust which makes it very difficult for them to disclose or talk about it," Whittier said.
Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America, released the following statement:
“There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong.
Victims have begun posting comments through social media. While the statute of limitations has run out in most of these cases, they say speaking out now may prevent more cases the future.