‘Perversion files’ failed to stop Boy Scouts sexual abuse

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by Jay Pate

An investigative report by the Los Angeles Times has revealed that a secret blacklist kept by the Boy Scouts of America failed to prevent known sex abusers from entering the ranks of Scout leaders. The confidential files, known internally as the “perversion files,” had been kept secret by the Boy Scouts for decades. However, parts of the file were recently released as a result of court proceedings and requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

The L.A. Times’ review of some 1200 files showed that there were insufficient controls and procedures to keep known child molesters from participating in Boy Scout activities. Among the findings:

  • Some offenders were never put on the blacklist and were instead reprimanded privately but allowed to remain with the Boy Scouts
  • Other offenders were put on the list but were allowed to remain in the Boy Scouts rather than be expelled
  • Some troops failed to check the list when considering new applicants
  • Clerical and computer errors caused same names to be lost

As a result of these mistakes, the study showed, from 1970 to 1991, there were more than 125 cases where men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

The L.A. Times also studied the specific allegations of abuse made by Scouts. Details from the “perversion files” showed that some of the most prevalent examples of ploys used by abusers to trap their victims were the following:

  • Campouts
  • Sexually related games
  • Misuse of authority and loyalty
  • Initiation rites
  • Trips alone
  • Sleepovers

If you suspect that your child may have been the victim of sexual abuse by a Scout leader or member, you should immediately call the police and local authorities.

The Boy Scouts of America have been sued repeatedly in the past for sexual abuse committed by Scout leaders and others. The lawsuits have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in settlements and a string of large jury verdicts. If you or a loved one has been subject to such abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you have a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.