Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has known about its Boy Scouts sexual abuse cases and its systematic problem of Boy Scouts abuse within Scouting almost from the time of its founding. By the early 1920s, BSA had established a centrally kept secret “red flag” file system, used in part to identify individuals known to pose a danger of sexual molestation to scouts (this system is now commonly referred to as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” or “IV Files”).
Between the inception of the Boy Scouts in 1910 and 1935, nearly 1,000 scout leaders who had sexually abused Boy Scouts were added to the IV files. (See, e.g., “Boy Scouts Head Explains ‘Red’ List,” N.Y. Times, June 9, 1935, at N4). [LH1] The files involving child molestation quickly became the largest category of the IV files; these became known as the “Perversion Files.”
BSA has long since destroyed nearly all early (i.e., pre-1955) IV files, including most early Perversion Files. In the 1970s, BSA reviewed all of the IV files created up to that point – estimated at over 4,000 files – and destroyed “[p]robably at least half of those files.”
Why the Boy Scout Perversion Files are Failing to Protect Boy Scouts
There are over 12,000 Boy Scout “Perversion Files” still in existence today meant to protect boy scouts from sexual abuse. Each file represents one pedophile scout leader who was reported to BSA for sexually abusing children.
However, these numbers only capture the ”tip of the iceberg” of the problem of child sexual abuse in Boy Scouts. BSA did not design or implement the IV file system to record or determine the number of victims in Scouting. Instead, the IV file system focused on reported perpetrators. BSA also did not design or implement the IV file system to record every adult abuser[LH2] .
Instead, BSA’s national headquarters only created a file upon receiving a report from a local BSA Council. Troops, parents, and Scouts generally did not even know that the IV file system existed and therefore would not know to make a report to the local council or to the national office.
Thus, the existing files only reflect those pedophile scout leaders who were actually caught and reported to BSA, for whom BSA created an IV file, and whose IV file was not destroyed.
Why Sexual Abuse in Boy Scouts of America Continued
Sexual abuse in Boy Scouts of America continues despite the Boy Scout Perversion Files due to its poorly designed tracking system and the lack of awareness among troops, parents, and scouts.
Many of the individuals who were reported to BSA for abusing children were not removed from leadership. Instead, a significant number of scout leaders who BSA knew were accused of abusing boys were placed on “probation” – an internal BSA program that allowed known pedophiles to continue acting as scout leaders and having access to young boys. A national Boy Scout executive testified to as much in our trial in 2010.
The BSA’s secret internal “probation” program did not impose any meaningful restrictions or supervision of the pedophile scout leader, and no warnings were given to current or prospective Boy Scouts, parents, or other troop leaders.
If no further offenses were reported to BSA by the end of the probation period, the probation ended, the scout leader was fully restored, and documentation of the prior complaint (i.e., the offender’s Perversion File) was destroyed.
Through its “probation” program, BSA knowingly allowed sexual predators to work with boy scouts on “probation.” In some instances, this included knowingly allowing individuals known to have been convicted of child sexual abuse to work as scout leaders. The Boy Scouts did so without any notification to law enforcement or parents of troop members.
Even having participated in CDC’s publication on preventing child sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts are still keeping the names of many individuals reported to have abused children a secret from the public.
Boy Scouts Abuse List Examples
The following are boy scouts abuse list examples from the publicly available Perversion Files that demonstrate the organization’s use of the probation system:
● Suffern, New York (1964): BSA added a man (Tyrone Hughes) to the IV Files after confirming that he had been convicted on charges related to sexually abusing boys. The local council Scout Executive contacted BSA for guidance in dealing with locals who were supportive of the man (but were apparently unaware of the criminal conviction). The Local Council Scout Executive knew that BSA’s “experience with these cases and types must be greatly magnified and thus more experienced than [the Scout Executive’s].” On February 25, 1965, BSA responded by allowing the convicted pedophile to continue as a scoutmaster for Troop No. 123 “on a two-year probationary status with annual checkups from [BSA].” Three months later, BSA records indicate that the man was removed from “probation” and placed on the IV File after being arrested for sexually abusing two more young boys.
● Honolulu, Hawaii (1966): Scoutmaster William L. Green, convicted of sodomy, was placed on the BSA’s “probation” program and allowed to serve as a Cub Scout leader.
● North Judson, Indiana (1967): Scout leader Ronald Golding was placed on the IV Files after facing “moral charges” for “making advances” on a 15-year-old boy. He is later allowed back in as Scout Leader on a probationary basis.
● Boulder, Colorado (1977): In the early 1970s, Scoutmaster Floyd David Slusher was removed from Scouting based on allegations that he molested multiple scouts over several years. Nevertheless, BSA allowed the man to return to a position as a Scoutmaster on a “two-year probationary” term. In March of 1977, BSA received reports that the Scoutmaster had been arrested on charges related to sexually abusing at least five boys (mostly scouts) between the ages of 10 and 14, including oral sex, simulated intercourse, and attempted anal penetration. The man reportedly threatened to kill each of his victims if they disclosed the abuse.
● Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (April 1982): Scoutmaster Allen Boblitt was placed on IV file in the 1960s for sexual abuse of boys. He returned in 1972 on probationary status and was finally removed from BSA leadership in 1982 after being charged with sexually assaulting two scouts.
● Indianapolis, Indiana (July 1982): Randall Merritt was discovered to have abused boys, but only was put on probation by BSA. Merritt later sexually abused several more scouts in his unit.
● Nampa, Idaho (March 1983): In 1979, Scout Leader James Phillip Schmidt was accused of abusing two boys, and his registration was suspended in May of 1981. He continued his involvement and was arrested in February of 1982 for sexually abusing at least one boy on the Cub Scout camping trip.
These seven examples are just the tip of the iceberg. The probation program was used by BSA extensively. Moreover, by its very design, the vast majority of probation files were destroyed by the Boy Scouts, and we do not have access to existing probation files for the period before 1965 or for the decades since 1985. Secrecy and denial about molestation in Scouting were the rules, not the exception.
We Represent Victims in Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Cases
In sum, the IV files that are supposed to help with Boy Scouts sexual abuse cases demonstrate that:
- BSA’s decades of knowledge of the widespread Boy Scouts abuse epidemic within Scouting,
- BSA’s decades of knowledge about how pedophiles utilized the Scouting program to accomplish their grooming and sexual abuse of Boy Scouts,
- Despite this knowledge, BSA chose not to change its youth program, policies or procedures to prevent or reduce the incidence of childhood sexual abuse committed by scout leaders, and
- Year after year, BSA chose to conceal and misrepresent the truth about Scouting – protecting its reputation over the lives of children entrusted to their care.
If you or someone you know has been subjected to sexual abuse in Boy Scouts, our sexual abuse lawyers are here to help. Call us today for a free consultation or send us a confidential message. We take these matters seriously and will keep your message confidential.