US Boy Scouts to report pedophiles missed earlier
PORTLAND, Oregon - The Associated Press
Members of the Boy Scouts salute during the raising of the flag on May 25, 2009 at the Willow River Cemetery in Hudson, Wisconsin during Memorial Day ceremonies. AFP PhotoThe Boy Scouts of America plan to begin doing what critics argue they should have done decades ago - bring suspected abusers named in the organization’s so-called perversion files to the attention of police departments and sheriff’s offices across the country.
The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization. But a court-ordered release of the perversion files from 1965 to 1985, expected sometime in October, has prompted Scouts spokesman Deron Smith to say the organization will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have fallen through the cracks.
That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice, said Josh Marquis, Clatsop County, Oregon, District Attorney. But investigations may require more than what most Scout files provide, including victims willing to cooperate.
"Let’s even assume the suspect confessed," he said. "An uncorroborated confession is not sufficient for a conviction."
Many states have no statutes of limitations for children victimized when they were younger than 16, so even decades-old crimes could be fair game.
The Scouts began keeping the files shortly after their creation in 1910, when pedophilia was largely a crime dealt with privately -not publicly. The organization argues that the files helped them track offenders and protect children. But some of the files released in 1991, detailing cases from 1971 to 1991, showed repeated instances of Scouts leaders failing to disclose sex abuse to authorities, even when they had a confession.
A lawsuit culminated in April 2010 with the jury ruling the BSA had failed to protect the plaintiff from a pedophile assistant Scoutmaster in the 1980s, even though that man had previously admitted molesting Scouts. The jury awarded $20 million to the plaintiff.