The Boy Scouts of America is reeling from new allegations from an expert working with the organization who says there may have been more than 7,800 allegedly sexually abusive troop leaders and volunteers, newly released court documents show.
The shocking figures were revealed during court testimony as part of a January trial about child sex abuse at a Minnesota children's theater company. Dr. Janet Warren, a professor at the University of Virginia's medical school told the court she had been "on private contract" with the BSA for the last five years. She had been helping the organization evaluate its handling of sexual abuse within the organization between 1944 and 2016. Her team worked with the group's "ineligible volunteer files," which are sometimes referred to as the "perversion files."
Warren testified that she and her team went through the files and discovered as many as 7,819 perpetrators of sexual abuse on a child. From those files, Warren said she identified up to 12,254 victims.
Those numbers were released on Tuesday by attorney Jeff Anderson, who regularly represents victims of sexual abuse. Anderson told reporters at the press conference that 130 of those alleged sexual abusers were located in New York and could face legal repercussions.
“The disclosure made by Dr. Janet Warren really sounded the alarm to us,” Anderson said.
In a statement about the files, the Boy Scouts of America expressed sympathy for the victims of sexual abuse and pointed to the organization's work to protect children over the years.
"We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice,” the organization said. “Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.
"Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920s, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations.
"At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement."
The story resonated with many, including one victim who told USA Today that at the time when he was in Scouts, no one would have listened to his complaints.
"The problem is, then you think, ‘Is it something I did? What was I doing, was it my fault? If I hadn’t done whatever, he wouldn’t have done that,'" James Kretschmer, 56, told USA Today. "It took me years and years to realize it wasn’t that little child’s fault. It was the adult who had control."
The Boy Scouts organization has been dealing with abuse allegations within its ranks since 2010 after a case resulted in the release of more than 20,000 confidential documents. Those documents revealed that the BSA had been keeping track of suspected and known abusers within their ranks and had banned more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers from serving with the organization between 1965 and 1985.
However, those leaders and volunteers were rarely, if ever, turned over to the police.
"The Boy Scouts of America have never actually released these names in any form that can be known to the public ... they never alerted the community that this teacher, this coach, this scout leader ... is known to be a child molester," Anderson said.
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