By: TIM KOSNOFF
We obviously knew a lot of publicity would ensue from the mid-October release of what have become known as the Boy Scout “perversion files.” But the press response has been even more astonishing than many may have imagined.
This is only too appropriate given the equally astonishing volume of sexual-abuse documents long held by the Boy Scouts of America. After a week of reading and viewing BSA-related news reports, the public is becoming familiar with the grim figures: more than 20,000 alleged pedophile crimes by nearly 2,000 scout “leaders” and volunteers.
Such numbers would be staggering even if they represented investigations from the entire century since scout officials surreptitiously began keeping records of child sexual abuse committed by those within the BSA ranks.
But the 6,000 files merely span 1965-1985 released via court order of the Oregon State Supreme Court. (Two weeks ago, I made available to the public on this web site my index of the same records spanning 1971-1991, a project that represents a decade of my time, analyzing and creating annotated notes on alleged perpetrators.
The response to the release of the documents has been somewhat predictable. Those personally unaffected by the crimes committed by adult scout volunteers are nonetheless appalled and infuriated by the reports and sickened once they read of the horrifying details.
Imagine, then, that you actually are a victim of scouting-related pedophilia. Imagine you’re one young scout mentioned in an Oct. 18 CNN news story posted online. This boy joined scouts at age 12 and was sexually abused by his scout leader while helping build a Boy Scout camp on a 42-acre ranch.
What I see in this young man, I see in so many of our clients: The abuse inflicted on these boys has a corrosive effect in which trust, relationship and sexuality issues develop with adulthood. This young man succinctly summarized what so many of our clients tell us: “‘I felt like I was all alone. … Just thinking about it makes me angry … because how could you do that to somebody? How could you bring yourself to do that to somebody who is so innocent and has done nothing wrong?’”
The details of what the public is reading in these files have been magnified by the fact that scout leaders have been aware of these cases for so long without many members of the public being privy to the information.
That obviously has changed. During the week since these stories have aired and been published, countless news stories have continued to pour forth. Coast to coast, victims are demanding answers as they look to find their abuser’s name on the list. News organizations from San Diego to Oklahoma City, Atlanta to Cape Cod, New York to New Orleans, are digging into local cases and asking questions.
Indeed, an NBC-2 report went on line from Florida the day after the Oct. 18 release of files from Portland, Ore. Reporter Dave Elias noted that he discovered six additional cases in Fort Meyers, Florida after I shared with him records from the “ineligible volunteer” files. Elias referenced a trend that’s bothered me:
“The most troubling thing in the files: In over 500 cases where the information came to the scouts first, they didn’t report it to police in 80 percent of the cases,” Kosnoff said.
Wayne Perry, Boy Scouts of America National President, has predictably tried to spin the story, even suggesting that safety concerns are a thing of the past.
“There’s no question that there are times in the past – and these go back to 40-50 years old – where we did not do the job that we should have. For that, and for people hurt, we are profoundly sorry.”
Elias closed his report by noting that victims’ attorneys collectively are calling on Congress to audit whether the BSA’s protections are working.
Given the darkening storm of reporting, it’s doubtful that even — perhaps especially — during a frenetic election season, the reality of the crimes long kept out of view by the Boy Scouts of America will have escaped the attention of many elected officials.
If someone you know needs help, you can contact us:
Our attorneys are highly experienced in childhood sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.
Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, direct: 425-837-9690
Dan Fasy, direct: 206-462-4338
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590