Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
The Boy Scouts of America issued an open letter on their website saying they "failed to defend scouts from those that would do them harm" from child predators. Now survivors are speaking out on how to move forward from an abusive situation.
The Irving-based Boy Scouts of America is reviewing hundreds of files alleging sexual abuse by Scout leaders.
The documents date back decades, but they’re getting another look after a new report shows the Boy Scouts made mistakes handling offenders and did not do everything it could to protect kids from abuse.
For years, the Boy Scouts kept confidential files on accused sexual predators and leaders ousted following allegations of abuse. A recent court case now forces BSA to make more than 1,200 records public.
The records have been dubbed “I.V. files,” for Ineligible Volunteers. They document hundreds of Scout leaders, dating back to the 1960’s, accused of some type of sexual misconduct. It’s meant to ban and track offenders who are deemed unfit for Scouting.
The files were used as evidence in an Oregon civil lawsuit and reviewed by a Virginia psychologist, Dr. Janet Warren.
Warren found in a small number of cases, the alleged pedophile was allowed back into Scouting. According to Warren, many files show the accused moved to new area and tried to re-enter the Scouts, but were denied because of the files.
The doctor concluded: mistakes were made by BSA, the rate of sexual abuse in Scouting is low, and while the files are confidential, she feels the majority of offenders have been arrested for sex crimes, which is public record.
BSA spokesperson Deron Smith released this statement:
“Dr. Janet Warren’s report shows that, as part of our broader Youth Protection program, the BSA’s system of ineligible volunteer files functions to help protect Scouts. However, we also know that in some instances we failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm. 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. For any episode of abuse, and where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies and sympathies to victims and their families. One instance of abuse is one too many.
While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals’ actions from many decades ago, today the BSA’s approach to Youth Protection is very different. We have continuously enhanced our multitiered policies and procedures to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention. The BSA requires background checks, comprehensive training programs, and mandatory reporting of even suspected abuse. Numerous independent experts have recognized that the BSA’s education and training programs for protecting Scouts from abuse are among the best in the youth-serving community.”