Monthly Archives: October 2012

Boy Scout Sexual Abuse : Documents Highlight Cover-Ups

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boy-scout-sexual-abuse-lawsuit.jpgA huge archive of private records kept by The Boy Scouts of America was made public on October 19, 2012.The records have revealed that Boy Scout officials were aware of a large number of adult scout masters who molested children between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. The scouting officials kept records of the pedophile scout masters and attempted to remove some but failed to report the crimes to police. Most state laws require that any person who is aware of child abuse make a report to the police so that the molester can be investigated by the police and prosecuted in the criminal courts. The records reveal that the Boy Scout policy was to keep these reports of child molestation secret from the public, the parents of scouts, and the police. The records show that the Boy Scout officials were fearful of scandal or bad publicity and put this concern ahead of concern for the safety of the boys in the organization. This is the same type of approach that the Catholic Church employed that ultimately led to the huge scandal that unfolded for the Church and the hundreds of lawsuits that were filed against the Church over the last decade.
More than 14,500 pages were released following a June ruling of the Oregon Supreme Court including details of 1,200 sexual predators in the organization who sexually molested or abused thousands of children and forced them to suffer in silence. The records, officially known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files and informally dubbed as “the perversion files,” by the Boy Scouts of America circles were presented under seal to support a 2010 sex abuse lawsuit filed by six former scouts.
Previously, only summary information from files was made public. This time complete internal communications, hand-written notations and opinions of Boy Scout executives were released.
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The Oregon lawsuit also resulted in a $20 million damages jury verdict for the six plaintiffs who were molested by their scout leader in the 1980s.
The released documents offer information about at least 15 incidents of sex abuse committed by Washington area volunteers between 1960 and 1984. The information includes names of alleged sexual predators, while the identity of victims has been protected in the documents before they were released in public domain. The list of perpetrators includes many names subject to criminal prosecutions for molestation of children. However, it is not clear if their prosecution was a result of these files.
According to a document presented by the Boy Scouts of America before the Washington State Supreme Court in August 2007, the Scouts fired about 180 leaders every year following sexual abuse complaints.
Media Reports on Boy Scout Sexual Abuse
Los Angeles Times Report, 2012
An investigation report, published in the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 2012, highlighted how the Boy Scouts of America kept under wraps news of sexual abuse of hundreds of children and did not report the molesters to police for over two decades. Allegations by victims against adult volunteers were suppressed and culprits were quietly transferred. The LAT reporters examined about 1,600 confidential files on sexual abuse of scouts between 1970 and 1991.
In more than 100 cases, officials suppressed the complaints and shielded those accused. The newspaper also highlighted how those accused or suspected of molesting children were expelled by the Boy Scouts of America citing health conditions and on other pretexts. Many of them were allowed to return after a few years notwithstanding their tainted records. In 1972, when five scouts accused a Pennsylvania scoutmaster of rape and sexual assault, he was allowed to leave on the ground that he could not travel for work.
Washington Times Report 1991
In May 1991, a five-part report entitled “Scouts Honor” by the Washington Times blew the lid off sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. The report was based on retrieved court records in 50 sexual abuse lawsuits filed by former scouts in more than 20 states. It published details of 350 Scout leaders compelled to leave the organization following sexual misconduct between 1971 and 1986. About 200 interviews with victims, Scout leaders, and lawyers were also published. The Washington Times reported that at least 1,151 Scouts were sexually abused by scoutmasters and seniors between 1975 and 1984. Abuses were more during campouts, sleepovers, and trips. The report concluded, “The Boy Scouts are a magnet for men who want to have sexual relations with children…Pedophiles join the Scouts for a simple reason: it’s where the boys are.”
Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
The 4 million-strong organization’s Youth Protection program initiated in the 1980s failed to prevent molestation and abuse cases. There were over 3,000 sexual abuse incidents in the Boy Scouts of America until 2010 when the organization adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy toward those accused of sexual abuse. Previously, local Scout leaders were required to inform such incidents to the upper chain of command. Now they have been allowed to report the complaints directly to the local police. The following is a list of some well-known lawsuits involving the Boy Scouts of America.
In June 1982, former Florida Scoutmaster Joe Gibson was sentenced to jail after he was found guilty of molesting scouts during camps. Another Scoutmaster from Daytona Beach Lee Pontius was found guilty of molesting Boy Scouts multiple times in 1982.
In 1988, a former Maryland scoutmaster David McDonald Rankin was jailed after he was found guilty of threatening the Scouts to have sex with him.
In 2004, New York police arrested former Boy Scout leader James Molyneaux following sexual abuse complaints. He was accused to have sexually exploited children less than 13 years, between 1997 and 2000.
In 2008, Texas Scout leader Martin Turner was convicted on two counts of indecency and abuse of children committed 40 years ago. A former Massachusetts Scout leader Howard Curtis found guilty of raping a 13-year-old boy scout two decades ago. Another Texas Scout leader was also convicted of multiple sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy between 2003 and 2005.
In 2009, an ex- Utah Boy Scout Leader was sentenced for sexual exploitation of minors during his stint with the Scouts, between 2005 and 2006.
In 2011, the court found sodomy and sexual abuse charges brought by three men against former Alabama Scout volunteer Charles Donald Corley true and sentenced him.
In 2012, a report highlighted the case of a former scoutmaster with a history of sexual exploitation. Brad Stowell arrested in 1997 admitted to have sexually exploited 24 boys since 1989. He was recruited despite the fact that the Scout officials were aware of his previous conviction in molesting a 6-year-old in 1988.
The Boy Scouts of America secretly settled hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against its staff. According to the Washington Times, it paid close to $15 million to settle 50 lawsuits filed against it between 1986 and 1991. It paid another $61.9 million from its insurance reserve to settle an undisclosed number of cases until 2000. Rumors are rife that, in many cases, the compensation was staggering; however, it was not reported as the settlements were confidential.

New Detroit Priest Abuse Case Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

Rev. Loren O’Dea, 83 was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1993 and retired in 1997 when he was only 68 years old. His early retirement may be significant given that O’Dea was ordained only four years prior and 68 is not the normal retirement age in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Perhaps more important, O’Dea had studied for the priesthood when he was much younger but became a social worker instead. The sexual abuse allegations stem from the period before his ordination to the priesthood.
As a priest abuse lawyer for many years, it seems these set of circumstances warrant further investigation into what the Archdiocese knew about this priest and when they knew it. If, for instance, they had knowledge of inappropriate behavior why was he allowed to serve and pose a danger to the children of the parishes he served?
This is not a decades-old case (which the Church always mentions when they are faced with such allegations). It demonstrates, at least until the Archdiocese answers some fundamental questions, a mode of operation that they had supposedly forsaken after learning about the devastating effects of sexual abuse on children.