The Boy Scouts of America has announced it will review more than a half-century of its confidential files on alleged sexual predators and will inform law enforcement of any cases it had not previously disclosed.
The unprecedented review will examine about 5,000 cases dating from the 1950s to the present in which Scouting employees or volunteers were suspected of molesting children and were expelled from the organization, officials said.
The announcement came nine days after the Los Angeles Times published an investigation that found Scouting officials did not report to police hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse between 1970 and 1991, allowing many suspected predators to resign quietly or under false pretenses. The findings were based on a review of 1,600 files entered into evidence in a 1992 court case.
The Scouts are bracing for a wave of increased scrutiny about the past handling of abuse allegations. In coming weeks, hundreds of files from past decades will be released to the public, as a result of a petition from media organizations in an Oregon court case.
In addition to announcing its review for law enforcement, the organization this week released a summary report from a University of Virginia psychiatrist it had commissioned to analyze hundreds of files dating from the 1960s. The researcher, Dr. Janet Warren, concluded that the files, intended as a blacklist, “functioned well in helping to keep unfit leaders out of Scouting.”
In an open letter released Tuesday, senior Scouting officials said the Warren study found that Scout leaders had made “a good faith effort” to keep child molesters out of the organization. The leaders also apologized for cases in which their efforts had failed.
“In certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate and wrong,” the letter said.