By Jason Sickles | The Lookout
Secret files kept by the Boy Scouts of America reveal the organizationís leaders may have helped hundreds of suspected child molesters "cover their tracks" by often hiding the allegations from parents, the public and police, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.
Documents obtained by the newspaper detail a paper trail of abuse where volunteers and staff were sometimes allowed to quietly resign to spare their reputation and that of the Scouts.
"We are making no accusations and will not release this information to anyone, so our action in no way will affect your standing in the community," stated a form letter sent to some alleged abusers in the í70s.
The records are part of the Scoutsí "ineligible volunteer" files, a confidential list of alleged molesters kept by the organization since 1919. Some of the files have been made public after being introduced as evidence in civil trials.
The Times obtained the records from a 1992 California case. For its story, the newspaper reviewed 1,600 files dating from 1970 to 1991:
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 casesó80%óthere is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.
Two of the examples cited:
In 1976, five Boy Scouts wrote detailed complaints accusing a Pennsylvania scoutmaster of two rapes and other sex crimes, according to his file. He abruptly resigned in writing, saying he had to travel more for work.
"Good luck to you in your new position," a top troop representative wrote back. He said he was accepting the resignation "with extreme regret."
A Maryland leader, who in 1990 "readily agreed" that abuse allegations against him were true, was given six weeks to resign and told he could give "his associates whatever reason that he chose," his file shows.
"This gave him an opportunity to withdraw from Scouting in a graceful manner to be determined by him," an official wrote. "We also reminded [him] that he had agreed to keep the whole matter confidential and we would not talk to anyone in order to give [him] complete ability to voluntarily withdraw."
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