There are many youth organizations that once enjoyed stellar reputations that have since been tarnished. One of the most prominent examples is the Boy Scouts of America. Rather than instilling positive moral values in boys and young men, the BSA has been accused of allowing scouts to be molested and sexually abused by pedophiles working and volunteering for the organization.
Mountains of evidence from past lawsuits show that the BSA was negligent in how it recruited, screened and supervised adults within the organization. Scoutmasters were regularly allowed to take entire groups of children on camping trips with no additional supervision. The organization also allegedly failed to address accusations or suspicions of sexual abuse. A 2012 lawsuit revealed that the BSA kept secret records of individuals who were “ineligible volunteers” because they were suspected or known pedophiles – a list that is commonly referred to as the “perversion files.”
Earlier this month, 19 plaintiffs filed a suit that may be the largest single lawsuit the Boy Scouts of America has ever faced. The plaintiffs include 17 former boy scouts who claim they were sexually abused by the same scoutmaster in the 1960s and 1970s. The final two plaintiffs are women who claim they were also victims of and witnesses to acts of sexual abuse perpetrated by the scoutmaster. Unfortunately, the man will not face his accusers because he died two years ago.
At the time, most victims were between 11 and 14 years old. According to the lawsuit, the scoutmaster sexually abused victims in his home, at a church where scout meetings were held and while on overnight camping trips. There were plenty of times, including on camping trips, when no other adults were brought in to act as chaperones. The attorney representing the plaintiffs said: “They just left this guy alone with all of these kids and he would go from tent to tent molesting boys.”
Such practices are no longer allowed in most youth organizations today, and it is easy to understand why. It is precisely this kind of blind trust and willful ignorance that allowed sexual predators to abuse countless children. Although the perpetrator in this case will not be brought to justice, the organization that allegedly facilitated his crimes can and hopefully will be held accountable.