Scoutmasters Molest Boy Scouts
By Mike McManus, President of Marriage Savers
TIME published a major story this week spotlighting the molesting of Boy Scouts by their scoutmasters – a pedophile problem strikingly similar to the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal by priests.
Within the Boy Scouts’ headquarters, an expert reported on what was known internally as the “Perversion Files,” that “12,254 boys had reported experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of at least 7,819 “perpetrators” between 1944 and 2016.”
Experts told TIME that the number of boys is a “gross underestimation. Many boys were likely intimidated or shamed out of reporting their assailants.”
Boy Scouts have been around for more than a century. They take a pledge, which is very famous: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Too many scoutmasters who teach the pledge – grossly violated the Oath.
That may be a reason the number of Boy Scouts has plunged from 6 million in 1972 – to only 2.2 million today – nearly a two-thirds plunge.
Some 58 years ago, Edward Pittson says his scoutmaster who taught him to use a compass and light a campfire – invited him, at age 12, to his house and asked him to lie on the bed. “This is the normal way to learn about sex. But don’t tell your parents what I am doing. They wouldn’t think you are mature enough” he said as he pulled down his pants and masturbated him.
The man Pittson identified is now 86 and denies that he was ever a scoutmaster. “I don’t remember any of that,” he told TIME.
Tim Kosnoff, an attorney, alleges the Boy Scouts were kicking out child molesters at the rate of one every two days for 100 years. He has brought more than 100 cases against the Scouts. There are so many cases the Scouts are considering filing for bankruptcy.
In a 2010 case, an Oregon court ordered the organization to pay $18.5 million in damages to one sexual abuse victim. The judge also ruled that the Boy Scouts had to make public the names in the “Perversion File.”
New York State recently passed a law making it easier for victims to sue their abusers. Jeff Anderson, an attorney, provided a list of 130 Scout leaders in New York who had been accused of sexual misconduct. It is unclear whether any of them had been criminally charged.
On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts issued a statement: “We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in scouting, and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”
“At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth,” the statement said.
However, Anderson noted that the Boy Scouts have not released the names of the abusers. “They may have removed them from scouting. They may have kept them in their Perversion File, but they never alerted the community.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a law that gives sex abuse victims new opportunities for justice. Prosecutors can bring criminal charges until a victim turns 28, a figure which had been 23. And victims can now sue abusers until they are 55.
One former New York Boy Scout troop leader, who acknowledged he had molested boys on a regular basis – was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in 2008 after serving five years and four months.
What should parents of current Boy Scouts do?
First, they should give their sons the facts that have been reported – that some scoutmasters have sexually abused Boy Scouts as young as 12. They should give detail, explaining various forms of sexual abuse. And parents should report that some leaders have gone to jail.
Second, parents should ask their boys if they have been molested in any way by their scoutmasters.
Third, concerned citizens should ask their local police if there have been any reported cases of sexual molestation of Scouts by their leaders. If not, citizens should urge the police to ask local leaders of Boy Scouts if there have been cases of firing of scoutmasters for abuse.
America must protect its children.
**This article was republished with permission from Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.com. Hit Search for any topic.
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