A review of confidential files shows the Boy Scouts of America frequently failed to report instances of child molestation to authorities by either hiding evidence of abuse or allowing suspects to do so, according to a report Sunday by The Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper said it reviewed 1,600 cases in the organization's "perversion files," a set of confidential documents the Scouts have been trying to keep out of the public eye, citing concerns over the privacy of both victims of abuse and those falsely accused.
The files in question were admitted into court in a 1992 case, and the Oregon Supreme Court recently ordered that 1,247 other files covering the period between 1965 and 1985 be made available.
In its review, the Times found that the organization heard about instances of abuse most often after they were reported to authorities. But in more than 500 cases, the Scouts were the ones initially notified, and in 80 percent of those instances, there is no record of the abuse being reported to authorities.
Boy Scouts officials did not comment on the review, instead releasing a statement saying the organization has "always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities." However, that specific requirement was only instituted two years ago.
In some cases, the review says, the Scouts might have violated their own rules requiring them to follow state law on reporting abuse. Several cases based in New Jersey saw no record of the organization complying with a requirement that anyone who suspects child abuse report it to law enforcement.
A separate investigation by the newspaper last month revealed that more than 125 men found to have abused children were allowed to continue working with the organization, while others expelled by the Scouts were able to resume their work either by exploiting flaws in the system or submitting false information.
["Boy Scout uniform & US flag" image by Anthony Berenyi via Shutterstock]