Support the Café

Search our Site

Boy Scouts helped cover for child molesters

Boy Scouts helped cover for child molesters

The Los Angeles Times uncovers a pattern of not reporting molesters and helping them cover their track:

Over two decades, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.

A Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.

Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to leave citing bogus reasons such as business demands, “chronic brain dysfunction” and duties at a Shakespeare festival.

The details are contained in the organization’s confidential “perversion files,” a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts’ lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.

As The Times reported in August, the blacklist often didn’t work: Men expelled for alleged abuses slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again. Now, a more extensive review has shown that Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.

And in the New Yorker, an article on how child molesters get away with it. Something all of us who want to prevent child rape and abuse should know:

The pedophile is often imagined as the dishevelled old man baldly offering candy to preschoolers. But the truth is that most of the time we have no clue what we are dealing with. A fellow-teacher at Mr. Clay’s school, whose son was one of those who complained of being fondled, went directly to Clay after she heard the allegations. “I didn’t do anything to those little boys,” Clay responded. “I’m innocent. . . . Would you and your husband stand beside me if it goes to court?” Of course, they said. People didn’t believe that Clay was a pedophile because people liked Clay—without realizing that Clay was in the business of being likable.

Did anyone at Penn State understand what they were dealing with, either? Here was a man who built a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar, fully integrated grooming operation, outsourcing to child-care professionals the task of locating vulnerable children—all the while playing the role of lovable goofball.

The Episcopal Church programs for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults warns about this dynamic with testimonies from perpetrators. Everyone should take the trainings offered by the church.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Russell

Seems rather that the Scouts were ahead of the times of they categorized them as “perversion” files. They new this was wrong enough to tag it and that it was likely criminal behavior.

It is true that many erred in thinking pedophilia was “curable” and offered treatment to offenders, a good faith though misguided effort.

The BSA is getting slammed because they put themselves on a moral high horse about gay children and parents. Erroneously they hold that gayness is infectious or a moral issue. Feet of clay don’t do well in the stirrups of a high horse.

Scouting is a fine activity neither it nor the vast majority of its leaders should be smeared by this. But its ranking leadership should be scorchingly held to account for their failure to protect kids from actual predators, while being judgmental about gays.

Kevin Matthews

I’m not a fan of the Boy Scouts thanks to their backward stance on gays in leadership. However, I think it important to say that, until the early 90s, the Episcopal Church (and most other churches) were doing very similar practices. To single out the scouts is unfair, and to imply that this is still the Scout practice is wrong.

In the early 1990s, Many Episcopal clergy were convinced that ssfe church practices were a waste of time. The real question today is, “What are the Scouts doing now–besides continuing to ban gays from being leaders, a practice which has nothing to do with these issues.” Another question would be “How are you facing you history around these issues?”


As a SafeGuarding Trainer, I think it is an excellent program, and that it will only be better with the new online site we will be using in the Diocese of Texas. My concern about the Boy Scouts, is that in most cases, the church does not to the screening and monitoring of their volunteers. The scouts do their own screening and monitoring, and we simply accept their documentation. I think we need a better process for parishes that sponsor scout troops, so that there is some real accountability that is consistent with what we demand of ourselves.

MEM – please sign your name when you comment- thanks ~ed.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café