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news-icebergOver 1,200 files on accused child molesters in the Boy Scouts are now public record. The Boy Scouts of America created these particular files – which they call the “Perversion Files” – between 1965 and 1985. They were used as exhibits in a 2010 trial against the Scouts in Portland, Oregon, by a man who had been sexually abused by his Scoutmaster when he was 13. The Oregon Supreme Court recently ordered that these files can be made public, as long as the names of victims and people who reported the abuse are blacked out.

The national office of the Boy Scouts has kept files on accused pedophiles since at least 1920, and maybe as early as 1911, when the Scouts first formed. The Boy Scouts used the files as a blacklist to try to keep child molesters from volunteering – checking names of those registering to volunteer against the names of those in the files. The files that are now public are those existing Perversion files that the Boy Scouts created between 1965 and 1985.

In other lawsuits and in public statements, the Boy Scouts of America has tried to argue that the number of Perversion files has always been, and still is, very small compared to the number of adult volunteers in Scouting, thereby trying to minimize the risk to children or knowledge of the problem by the Boy Scouts.

This argument is faulty on many levels. For starters, it ignores the damage to children injured by sexual abuse. To the 12-year-old little boy abused by his Scoutmaster, it doesn’t matter if he is one of 100 or one of 1,000 – his experience shouldn’t be minimized down to a statistic.

Setting aside, if possible, the qualitative flaw in the Boy Scout’s argument, it is also quantitatively wrong. The existing Perversion files do not come close to accurately representing the total number of adult volunteers who abused children in Scouting, let alone the total number of Scouts who were abused.

This is true for several reasons, which I will explain in upcoming posts.