Boy Scouts’ Sex Abuse Scandal: “Blacklist” Shows Extent of Abuse

More than 40 Western Pennsylvania men were included on the Boy Scouts “ineligible volunteer files” released recently. Dubbed the “perversion files,” the list includes more than 5,000 people that the Boy Scouts considered abusive and, thus, ineligible to volunteer. It is not, however, a list of the people who have been prosecuted for sexual abuse. Instead, the list was never released to the public and the Boy Scouts did not report many of the allegations to the police.

The Boy Scouts itself estimates that approximately one third of the incidents went unreported.

“There have been instances where people misused their positions in scouting to abuse children and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong,” the President of the Boy Scouts’ national chapter said. “Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.”

Recognizing a serious mistake is not enough, especially when young children were the victims of covered-up abuse. Furthermore, many of the victims of sexual abuse by Boy Scout leaders and volunteers were told to keep quiet, some even threatened. This list could empower those boys — many now men — to speak up about the abuse. While financial compensation will not mend their scars, holding the abuser liable can bring some closure and can help prevent future attacks.

Unfortunately, because of what is called the “statute of limitations,” not all victims can bring a lawsuit. Under Pennsylvania law, a victim must bring a lawsuit within a certain timeframe in order to recover for his or her injuries. For example, if you are over 30 years old and you were abused when you were 10 years old, you may not be able to bring a civil lawsuit against your abuser.

We must be able to trust our children’s role models. The Boy Scout “perversion files” show how often that trust has been broken. No matter your age or the level of abuse you or your child suffered, an experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help you understand the options available to you for holding the abuser — and the Boy Scouts of America — legally responsible.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Boy Scouts ‘blacklist’ includes men from Pennsylvania, Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Oct. 22, 2012.

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