The Boy Scouts of America are going to be playing legal catchup now and have promised to bring suspected abusers that the organization has known about for the past 50 years to the attention to police and law officials across the country. The Boy Scouts have largely kept the organization's "ineligible volunteer" files, or "perversion files" as some news outlets call them—a cache of documents they used to track pedophiles which includes accusations of sex abuse by members and leaders—to themselves, and have argued that until last week (when they admitted that their response had been “plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong") that they did all they could to keep their boys safe. But a court order to release the "ineligible volunteer" files from 1965-1985 sometimes this month has changed that, and with the release comes a promise from the Boy Scouts to go "back into the files and report any offenders who may have fallen through the cracks," reports the AP. On September 16, a Los Angeles Times team of Kim Christensen and Jason Felch found that in those files dating from 1970-1991, "scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks." Further:
In the majority of cases, the Scouts learned of alleged abuse after it had been reported to authorities. But in more than 500 instances, the Scouts learned about it from boys, parents, staff members or anonymous tips.
In about 400 of those cases — 80 percent — there is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police.
That gives us some idea of the importance of these files, and illustrate the cracks that possible pedophiles could have slipped through. "A psychiatrist who reviewed the files, Dr. Jennifer Warren, found that police were involved in about two-thirds of the cases from 1965-1985," adds the AP, which also notes that Warren's report counted 1,622 victims; The Los Angeles Times's Jason Felch noted that Warren was paid $75,000 its study. So, if we go by Warren's numbers, we're probably talking about roughly 535 cases that the Boy Scouts knew about which the police were not involved in. And as the AP is quick to remind us: the files are just that, new investigations and whatnot need more than what the files could provide (think: cooperating victims, witnesses, everything we've seen in the Jerry Sandusky trial, etc.). "Let’s even assume the suspect confessed," Oregon District Attorney Josh Maqrquis told the AP. "An uncorroborated confession is not sufficient for a conviction."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.