I also outlined the Boy Scout’s argument that the Perversion files show that abuse of Scouts by adult volunteers was a tiny problem. That argument doesn’t carry much weight with the children who were sexually molested by their Scoutmasters.
It also is not supported by the facts. Below, I explain just one reason why the Boy Scouts are wrong in using the Perversion files to minimize the problem of abuse in Scouting. In future posts, I will discuss other flaws in the Scout’s argument.
The first problem with the Boy Scout’s argument is that the number of existing Perversion files does not reflect the number of files that the Boy Scouts created. The national headquarters of the Boy Scouts is solely responsible for creating, maintaining, and using the “ineligible volunteer” file system to track and blackball certain individuals from volunteering with the Boy Scouts. The largest category of individuals barred from registering as volunteers are those in the “Perversion” files – those accused of sexually molesting children.
Over the years, the Boy Scouts have destroyed an unknown number of Perversion files. Through at least the 1980s, the Boy Scouts regularly culled the files to remove the files of deceased and elderly perpetrators. For many years, the Boy Scout policy was to destroy the file of anyone who was older than 72. Once a file was destroyed, there would be no record that the person had ever been barred from Scouting. In theory at least, a 73-year-old pedophile who had been banned from registering as a volunteer would be approved by the Boy Scouts because there would be no record of his past Perversion file.
Also, for many years, the Boy Scouts used a “probation” system for some volunteers accused of inappropriate conduct with children. Under this system, the Boy Scouts agreed to destroy the Perversion file of a volunteer who was put on “probation” if the Boy Scouts received no further complaints for a certain period of time. There is no record of how many files were destroyed under this policy.
Finally, in the 1970s, the Boy Scouts reviewed all of the Perversion files that existed at that point – estimated at over 4,000 files – and destroyed “[p]robably at least half” of those files. They kept no record of the files destroyed.
Because of the Boy Scout’s systematic destruction of files, there is no way to know or even estimate the total number of Perversion files on child molesters that the Boy Scouts created over the years.
Please check back soon for my post on an even more important reason why the existing Perversion files under-represent the problem of child abuse in the Boy Scouts.