After decades of legal wrangling and trying to keep secret thousands of “confidential,” or “perversion files,” the Boy Scouts of America this week – compelled by court order from Oregon – released 1,200 of those files, detailing sexual abuse and suspected abuse between scout leaders and their young victims.
The Los Angeles Times has published the data in an easy-to-understand way, searchable by name and by state. The files expose a “corrosive culture of secrecy,” according to the New York Times, whereby instances of abuse were often covered up and molesters were not immediately barred from Scouting, but allowed to volunteer with another troop; and when molesters were finally kicked out of the Scouts, the fact of such expulsion was kept secret and not publicized.
Confronting the issue rather than burying it may have saved other kids from the hellish nightmares of sexual abuse. The dissemination of information, rather than covering it up, would have allowed for transparency. It took far too many years for the Scouts to enact rules, for example, banning scout leaders from sleeping in tents with boys, or making it mandatory that two adults (not only one) attend any overnight camping trips.
Forty-five (45) former Massachusetts scout leaders are on the list.
Yet another sad example of powerful institutions taking steps to protect their own reputation and “brand,” instead of seeking to protect innocent youths, victims, and potential victims. We’ve seen it with the Church and with Penn State. May we never see it happen again.