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Boy Scouts admit response to sex abuse was 'insufficient'

State of Oregon via AP file

This undated image made available by the State of Oregon on March 18, 2010 shows Timur @!$%#s. In April 2010, a jury decided the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing @!$%#s, a former assistant scoutmaster, to associate with Scouts after he admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys, according to court records.

As the Boy Scouts of America prepares for the court-ordered release of records detailing accusations of sex abuse by members and leaders, the organization acknowledged in an open letter this week that its response in some of the cases had been “plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong.”

The letter comes after the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Boy Scouts to release “ineligible volunteer” files from 1965 to 1985 that chronicle suspected or confirmed instances of child sex abuse. Media organizations had sued for the release of the files, part of a 2010 case in which a jury decided that the Scouts were negligent for allowing a former assistant scoutmaster to associate with the organization's youth after he admitted molesting 17 boys in 1983, court records show, according to The Associated Press.

Some 829 of the files from that time period (Jan. 1, 1965 to June 30, 1984) involve suspicions or confirmations of inappropriate sexual behavior with 1,622 youth, according to a report by Dr. Janet Warren, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, for the Boy Scouts. The report, released Tuesday, was completed in 2011.

“Dr. Warren’s report shows that, as part of our broader Youth Protection program, the BSA’s system of ineligible volunteer files functions to help protect Scouts,” Wayne Perry, national president, Tico Perez, national commissioner, and Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive, said Tuesday in an open letter to the Scouting community. “However, we also know that in some instances we failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm. 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.

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“For any episode of abuse, and in any instance where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies and sympathies to victims and their families,” according to the letter. “While we believe the files are an inconclusive record, the BSA will undertake a similar review and analysis of the IV (ineligible volunteer) files created from 1965 to present and ensure that all good-faith suspicion of abuse has been reported to law enforcement.”

The developments were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, which noted that Warren’s team was paid $75,000 to complete the study.

Warren’s findings included:

--  The total number of alleged youth victims identified in the files was 1,622. Of these, 1,302 were involved in Scouting, for 112 it was unclear, and for 208, they were not involved in Scouting.
--  486 of the men identified in the files as suspects were arrested at some time for a sex crime. It may have occurred before they got involved with Scouting, as a result of the incident noted in their file or after they left the organization.
--  In 531 of the cases, there was information indicating alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with multiple youths. 
--  In 252 of the cases, the available information indicated alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with only a single victim. 
--  128 of the men in the files had their registration revoked within a year of signing up.
-- Police were involved in the investigation of 523 cases.
-- Six men placed on probation offended against a Scout during their probationary period, while two men were accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with a youth after their probationary period had ended.  
-- After being denied registration by the BSA, 175 men were identified as having sought to re-register with the organization, in some cases under a different name at another location many years after their initial entry into the files. They were denied entry into the Boy Scouts.

“My review of these files indicates that the reported rate of sexual abuse in Scouting has been very low,” Warren wrote in a summary of her report, in which she also said the “files broadly refute the notion that these were ‘secret files’ of hidden abuse.”

“I believe that these files show that children in Scouting were safer and less likely to experience inappropriate sexual behavior in Scouting than in their own families, schools and during other community activities supervised by adults,” she wrote.

But an attorney who has filed several suits for former Scouts said Warren’s review didn’t take into account abuse cases that weren’t in the files.

"Personally I have represented more than a hundred men abused by Scout leaders whose names were never entered in the ... files -- even after BSA paid out substantial settlements on account of these abusers," Timothy Kosnoff, a Seattle attorney, told the Los Angeles Times. "The files are only the tip of the iceberg. Most perpetrators never get caught."

The Boy Scouts said they expect the files from the Oregon case to be released soon. They said that, beginning in 2010, the organization mandated that all suspicions of abuse be reported to law enforcement authorities and that they have always required members to follow local laws on reporting of abuse.

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