BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Boy Scouts of America was ordered to release secret files on child sex abuse within the organization. Contained in those files are names of more than 1,000 predators nationwide and nearly 100 of those here in Maryland.
Kai Jackson has more on the impact of the disturbing report.
It is expected that the release of this information could lead to both prosecutions and lawsuits.
The Boy Scouts of America has released files kept secret for decades. The so-called Perversion Files are voluminous and detail widespread sexual abuse of Boy Scouts, mostly by men, and what authorities describe as a systematic cover-up of the crimes.
“The Boy Scouts knew they had an institution-wide problem of child abuse and they didn’t take steps to deal with that,” Kelly Clark, a child abuse attorney, said.
The files involve cases between 1965 and 1985 and contain the names of scout leaders and volunteers accused of child sex abuse.
“Scouting does have some good points,” abuse victim Tom Stewart said. “However, right now it is a very dangerous program for young boys.”
Authorities say cases occurred across the country, including scout troops here in Maryland. The documents reveal that in some cases, law enforcement actually helped cover up or ignored crimes in an effort preserve the Scouts’ reputation.
“To the extent that we fell short of protecting the youth, and we did fall short in some instances, we’re profoundly sorry,” Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America, said.
“You do not get to keep secrets about hidden dangers to children. Period. End of conversation,” Clark said.
A Baltimore child advocacy group says whether it’s the Boy Scouts or the babysitter in your neighborhood, parents are responsible for mitigating risks to their children.
“Parents have to ask tough questions of the programs they’re sending their kids to,” Adam Rosenberg, executive director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, said. “And if they’re not satisfied with the answers they have, then demand something better or take their kids elsewhere.”
The names of about 12,000 scout leaders and volunteers were released in these files. The Oregon Supreme Court demanded and forced the Boy Scouts to release the files. The names of witnesses and victims were blocked out before these files were released online.
The files contain some 14,500 pages of documents.