So we see once again that the Boy Scouts of America is making a sophisticated, but just factually untrue, argument. They say they are not responsible for the sexual abuse of a boy by his Scout leader, in part, because they do not control local councils, troops or Boy Scout leaders.  Really? Then what in heck is the purpose of a BSA Handbook and Scoutmaster Handbook that fills hundreds of pages with rules and regulations about what Scout leaders may and may not do?

Imagine:

•If a Scout leader tried to change the basic BSA program: “No, I think we’ll give out Eagle Scout awards here for baking a chocolate cake; all that stuff about an Eagle Scout project is just way too demanding.”

•If a Scout leader tried to start an Atheist’s Club: “all that BSA stuff about believing in God is bunk.”

•If a Scout leader decided to take his troop out for political campaigning—“hey, these Scouts can knock on a lot of doors in one day to help Barack Obama get elected.”

All of these things are proscribed by national BSA rules. The fact is, BSA controls the actions of its local agents—Councils, troops and leaders—down to the minutiae of everyday activities. The arguments to the contrary are disingenuous, and are part of the reason that in 2010 a Portland jury tagged them with $18.5 million in punitive damages. Juries don’t like artificial, manufactured, hyper-legal arguments—especially when they are demonstrably false…

Kelly Clark

About Kelly Clark

Most centrally, for nearly twenty years, Kelly Clark was a leading advocate for victims of ...