Over 1,200 Boy Scout “Perversion” files on accused child molesters are now available to the public on-line. These files, created between 1965 and 1985, were exhibits in a 2010 trial against the Boy Scouts in Portland in which the jury awarded just under $20 million to a man who had been sexually molested when he was 13 by his Scoutmaster.
In earlier posts, I’ve discussed several reasons why the existing Boy Scout “Perversion” files do not represent the extent of the problem of adult Scout volunteers or Scout employees sexually abusing children in Scouting.
Another reason the existing files do not show the extent of the problem is because the Boy Scouts had a “probation” policy up until the 1980s. A man put on probation was not kicked out, but could continue to serve as a Scoutmaster. If there were no complaints or accusations for two years, the BSA’s policy was to destroy the man’s probation file, but there were no other restrictions of safeguards on his continued participation.
The now-public files include many examples of the BSA allowing accused pedophiles to actively participate with troops on a probationary basis.
Sometimes, men were put on probation because the BSA did not believe the allegations were serious enough to kick them out. For example, one file from Colorado shows that Floyd David Slusher was put on probation after confessing that he had sexually molested a Scout over a three or four year period. He continued to serve as a Scoutmaster for four years. The BSA finally kicked him out when he was convicted for having sex with an 11 year old Scout in his troop.
The saddest part of this story is shown in the police report in Slusher’s Boy Scout file, when the police concluded:
“During the interviews . . . [the police] learned of many other victim’s too numerous to interview. It has been learned that almost every boy in troop 75 and troop 73 has been approached sexually by Slusher on one time or another. . . . It is evident, however, that Slusher, through his sexual assaults on young boys, has affected emotionally, many young lives.”
Worse than putting accused molesters on probation initially, the BSA sometimes allowed Ineligible Volunteers with existing Perversion files to return to Scouting on a probationary basis. For example, one file shows that Richard Cremins Watterson was kicked out of the Scouts in 1967, based on reports that he had repeatedly fondled an eight year old boy, his 11 year old brother, and at least one other Scout on camping trips.
In 1976, knowing that Watterson was in a Perversion file, the BSA allowed him to re-register as an Assistant Scoutmaster and volunteer on the Council camping committee. The only restriction on his activities was that the BSA noted in his Perversion file that he was on probation for the next two years. 15 months later, the man was arrested for having sodomized an 11 year old Scout.
Files like these show how the Boy Scout’s Ineligible File system failed to work because so many men on probation went on to abuse more children.
But the files also demonstrate that there are no existing records of the unknown number of probation files the BSA destroyed simply because the bad guy was clever enough to not get caught again during his two-year probation.