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Boy Scouts May Not Be Better Than the Catholic Church: Sex Abuse Cover-up by Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church?

March 19, 2010
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According to documentation to be released in a court in Oregon, the Boy Scouts organization has kept a file of the sexual abuse reports but has refused to release those files, because they were “replete with information” concerning the abusers and the children:

The trial is significant because the files could offer a rare window into how the Boy Scouts have responded to sex abuse by Scout leaders. The only other time the documents are believed to have been presented at a trial was in the 1980s in Virginia.

At the start of the Oregon trial, attorney Kelly Clark recited the Boy Scout oath and the promise to obey Scout law to be “trustworthy.” Then he presented six boxes of documents that he said will show “how the Boy Scouts of America broke that oath.”

He held up file folder after file folder he said contained reports of abuse from around the country, telling the jury the efforts to keep them secret may have actually set back efforts to prevent child abuse nationally.

“The Boy Scouts of America ignored clear warning signs that Boy Scouts were being abused,” Clark said.

Charles Smith, attorney for the national Boy Scouts, said in his own opening statement the files were kept under wraps because they “were replete with confidential information.”

Smith told the jury the files helped national scouting leaders weed out sex offenders, especially repeat offenders who may have changed names or moved in order to join another local scouting organization.

“They were trying to do the right thing by trying to track these folks,” Smith said.

Clark is seeking $14 million in damages on behalf of a 37-year-old man who was sexually molested in the early 1980s in Portland by an assistant Scoutmaster, Timur Dykes.

Timur Dykes has abused more than one Boy Scout, and the Boy Scouts organization has been sued multiple times for cases of child sexual abuse:

Although there have been dozens of lawsuits against the organization over sex abuse allegations, judges for the most part have either denied requests for the files or the lawsuits have been settled before they went to trial.

The Boy Scouts had fought to keep the files being used in the Portland trial confidential. But they lost a pretrial legal battle when the Oregon Supreme Court rejected their argument that opening the files could damage the lives and reputations of people not a party to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the Mormons acted as a charter organization, or sponsor, for the local Boy Scouts troop that included the victim. But the church has settled its portion of the case.

The Mormon church has already settled their portion of the case, so why would the Boy Scouts believe they can keep records of child sexual abuse under wraps?  Maybe it’s for the same reason the Catholic Church thought it could cover up instances of child sexual abuse.

According to the Boy Scouts though, even though Dykes had admitted to abusing 17 boys, child abuse is a “societal problem”:

The Mormon bishop who also served as head of the Scout troop, Gordon McEwen, confronted Dykes after receiving a report of abuse by the mother of one boy in the troop in January 1983.

In a video deposition played for the jury, the bishop said Dykes admitted abusing 17 boys.

But McEwen said he contacted the parents of all 17 boys and the boys themselves, and none would confirm any abuse.

Dykes was arrested in 1983 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse, received probation and was ordered to stay away from children.

Clark told the jury Dykes continued with his scouting activities until he was arrested in July 1984 during a routine traffic stop while he was driving a van full of Scouts on a camping trip.

A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America at its headquarters in Irving, Texas, said in a statement the organization cannot comment on details of the case. But it has worked hard on awareness and prevention efforts, including background checks.

“Unfortunately, child abuse is a societal problem and there is no fail-safe method for screening out abusers,” Deron Smith said.

Hmm, so it sounds an awful lot like the Boys Scouts are placing the blame on society for not screening their own scout leaders.  Additionally, it’s not the crime that is being fought over now, but the cover-up.  The cover-ups will always get you in the end…

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