Also referred to as the “Perversion Files,” these documents list over 1,200 suspected child molesters both within the organization and in the communities they serve.
Dating back several decades, they were originally assembled as a means for keeping track of potentially dangerous individuals who were considered ineligible to volunteer with the Boy Scouts. But in the end, the original intent of the files was sullied by what was — or wasn’t — done with the information they contained.
Kristian Foden-Vencil, reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, has been covering the release of the Boy Scouts’ "Ineligible Volunteer Files." He reports on what the fallout could be from their release.
Foden-Vencil says, "What's really stunning, is that in some of these, we've heard people get accused, and found guilty, but then be allowed to come back and be under probation, but still be around kids."
While the statute of limitations has run out on most of the files that have been released, which document sexual abuse cases from 1965 to 1985, there are more files which go all the way to 2011. "As you can imagine, those cases are a lot fresher,' Foden-Vencil says. "If those were made public, there would be more suing, more law suits, more criminal investigations."
Up until yesterday, Gary Schoener was the only person outside of the Boy Scouts who was allowed to read the perversion files. He testified on behalf of the plaintiff in the 2010 landmark abuse case against the Boy Scouts. In his opinion, the files, while well-intentioned, are completely damning.
"The theory was, if they had this whole long list of bad people," Schoener says. "You could catch them when they applied to volunteer."
"I think it was intended to protect kids, and probably in some instances preventing someone from re-enrolling," he says. "The problem was, for all those years, they had this data which really could tell them how to educate kids and parents and how to do certain types of prevention, which they didn't do until many many years later."
It seems that, in part, the problem stems from attitudes of the time. In the mid-1960s, there was no public conversation about pedophilia. But in today's climate of Penn State and the Catholic Church, we understand the grave crime of silence on the issue.
The following is statement from Wayne Perry, the national president of Boy Scouts of America:
“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. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.
“While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals’ actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse. The BSA requires background checks; administers comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth, and parents; and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse. 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’s standards and relentless focus on Youth Protection have been recognized and praised by experts in child protection, including Victor Vieth, a former prosecutor who heads the National Child Protection Training Center.
“Experts have found that the BSA’s system of ineligible volunteer files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to potentially dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes they play an important role in our comprehensive Youth Protection system."