…The details are contained in the organization’s confidential “perversion files,” a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts’ lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.
As The Times reported in August, the blacklist often didn’t work: Men expelled for alleged abuses returned to the program, only to be accused of molesting again. Now, a more extensive review has shown Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.
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 victims, 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. In more than 100 cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.
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 accepted the resignation “with extreme regret.”
Scouting officials declined to be interviewed for this article. In a prepared statement, spokesman Deron Smith said, “We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities.”
The organization instituted that requirement in 2010. Before then, the policy was to obey state laws, which didn’t always require youth groups to report abuse. But in some instances, the Scouts may have violated state laws.
A cover sheet that accompanied many confidential files included a check box labeled “Internal (only scouts know)” as an option for how cases were resolved.
A form letter sent to leaders being dismissed over abuse allegations stated: “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.”
That letter was included in the organization’s 1972 policy on how to remove unfit leaders, which, according to an attached memo, was kept confidential “because of misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed.”
The files at times provide an incomplete account of how abuse allegations were resolved. In his statement, the Scouting spokesman said, “In many instances, basic details are missing as they were not relevant to the BSA’s sole reason for keeping files, which was to help identify and keep a list of individuals deemed to be unfit for membership in Scouting.”
Still, they reveal a culture in which even known molesters were shown extraordinary deference.
The Boy Scouts’ lawyers have long contended that keeping such files confidential is key to protecting the privacy of victims, of those who report sexual abuse and of anyone falsely accused. But over the years, hundreds of the files have been admitted into evidence — usually under seal — in lawsuits brought by alleged victims….