If you have turned on the news or looked online in the last couple of days, you’ve seen the headlines: almost 8,000 Boy Scouts leaders have been accused of sexual abuse over the last 72 years.
We knew it was bad. We just didn’t know it was this bad.
The idea that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has kept files on suspected child sexual abusers is not a secret. The Los Angeles Times launched an in-depth investigation into this practice in 2012, creating “the most comprehensive database of the cases ever published, including 1,900 files and 3,100 case summaries spanning 1947 through 2005.”
Those cases are part of what BSA itself called “perversion files” – an internal “blacklist” of suspected and proven child sex abusers, collated so that an abuser who was removed form one group could not join another.
What we would like to know is this: if BSA knew they had child abusers in their organization, and knew that they needed to remove those child predators from the group – why didn’t they ever report those predators to the police?
Actively complicit in the sheltering of child molesters
In 2012, The Los Angeles Times reported that a “review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.” Since the paper’s initial reports, parents and former Scouts have sued to have those files released, and the courts have sided with them.
What we have learned is that the BSA’s willingness to overlook acts of sexual abuse is pervasive and systemic. The organization actively fought against adopting criminal background checks, which allowed them to (inadvertently) become a haven for child predators.
More than 12,000 victims of child sexual assault
The number of alleged and proven abusers in the BSA is shocking, but the other number – 12,254 – that deserves equal attention. Over the course of 72 years, at least 12,254 children were sexually assaulted, abused, molested, and harmed by troop members and leaders. That number is likely higher, because the records only go to 2016; we do not know how many more children were hurt in the last few years.
As a law firm that is dedicated to helping victims of childhood sexual assault, Taylor & Ring has represented clients who were abused by predators within youth organizations like the Boy Scouts of America. We have seen first-hand the devastating consequences of this abuse, and the ripple effect it has on people’s lives. We also know that the lack of justice for our clients whose abusers have walked free – because there was no criminal inquiry, and because the predators were protected – is often just as damaging as the abuse itself.
That is why we are prepared to fight for victims of child sexual abuse and assault. That is why we are driven to seek justice for our clients. We suspect that with these latest revelations, more and more survivors will come forward to tell their stories, and to ensure that justice is finally served.
And when they do, we will be there.
Taylor & Ring offers comprehensive counsel to adult and child victims of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment throughout California. If you were sexually abused by a troop member or leader within the Boy Scouts of America organization, we want to help. Please call our our Los Angeles sexual assault lawyers at 310-776-6390 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free, confidential consultation.