Another Institution Based On Trust Is Tarnished. Will The "New And Improved" Boy Scouts Weather The Scandal?
(Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of America could face a wave of bad publicity as decades of records of confirmed or alleged child molesters within the U.S. organization are expected to be released in coming weeks.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported the organization failed to report allegations of sex abuse of scouts by adult leaders and volunteers to police in hundreds of cases from 1970 to 1991. In some cases, the Boy Scouts helped the accused "cover their tracks," the paper said.
Over Or Covert: What's In A Cover-up?
Paul Mones, one of the attorneys in a landmark case of molestation* stated that "In the Catholic Church there were overt cover-ups, and I don't think you see a lot of that here with the Boy Scouts." But what would make the cover-ups more overt? Mones didn't speculate. (Apparently, in the law, there are varying degrees of cover-up.) Matter of administration and hierarchy - or lack of them - were part of the problem from 1971 to 1991: vetting and regulations were not strictly enforced. The "Perversion Files" were kept since 1919, but kept out of the public eye ... until now. Over 400 cases were not reported. Some of those cases involved offenders who went on to abuse as many as 20 more boys over the years.
SNAP Crackle POP!
SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has not entered the Boy Scouts fray in demanding that those involved in cover-ups - namely those who did not report child molestation, should be "ousted" and "prosecuted." In the wake of the Penn State and Catholic priest scandals - both impetus for organizations like SNAP - more cover-ups and more allegations of child abuse may very well surface. The problem, as with many of the former suits, is the statute of limitations. The Boy Scouts of America maintain that their vetting process and training have been stellar within the last twenty years, leading the way for other organizations to report any suspicion of child abuse.
"It's not enough to say 'we're doing better these days,' " [David] Clohessy [Director of SNAP] said. "Scout officials deceived parents, police and the public about child molesters in the past. How can we believe them when they claim now that they've stopped?"
Clohessy also demands that prosecutors look at the files closely "for men who might still be pursued criminally for committing, causing and concealing devastating child sex crimes." In SNAP's view, the Boy Scout cover-ups were just as offensive as the Catholic priest cover-ups.**
A Matter Of Percentage Or Perspective?
The Boy Scouts of America has a yearly membership of over 5 million boys, so the report on the cover-up of over 400 cases seems minuscule, especially compared with the thousands of case against the Catholic clergy in the last decade. But as some people perceive it, the issue does not lie in numbers but in the mainstay of the Boy Scouts' image: trust. The trust placed in scoutmasters is almost on par with the trust placed in priests. As one cynical commentator put it: "The Boy Scouts are propaganda, just like religion."
The David Packman Show (below) reports that similarities to Catholic priest abuse and posits that President Obama is (as President) an Honorary Chairman of the organization, he should step down. This will not happen, of course, but it's interesting to speculate just how Obama will react if asked about the situation.
similar the cover-ups to the Catholic priest situations are still being played
out. How serious they are ...