Boy Scouts Protected Many Child Molesters from Police, Parents
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) helped many alleged child molesters and rapists conceal their crimes and did not report hundreds of cases to parents or police, a Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files spanning two decades has found.
The Times reviewed documents from the years 1970-1991 and found that while Scouting officials encouraged self-confessed molesters and rapists to resign, BSA helped many of them conceal their crimes. The documents come from BSA’s confidential ‘perversion files,’ an internal blacklist of alleged pedophiles dating back to 1919. They detail how BSA staff expelled for molestation were able to join again and re-offend.
In more than 500 cases, BSA learned of the abuse from boys, parents, staff or anonymous tips. In around 400 of those cases, Scouting officials apparently did not report allegations to police. In more than 100 cases, BSA leaders attempted to cover up abuse allegations or helped suspected offenders conceal their alleged crimes.
A cover sheet attached to many confidential files included a check box for “Internal (Only Scouts know)” as an option for resolving abuse claims. Included in a form letter sent to those being expelled due to abuse allegations contained a passage stating that “we are making no accusations and will not release this information to anyone, so our action in no way will affect your standing in the community.”
A Michigan BSA camp director who heard allegations of habitual abuse by a staff member told police in 1982 that he didn’t report the alleged crimes because his superiors said they wanted to protect the reputation of the Boy Scouts and the accused molester.
Also in 1982, a BSA camp director in Virginia wrote to the Scouts’ chief lawyer seeking assistance in handling a longtime staffer suspected of a “lifelong pattern” of unreported abuse.
In 1976, five Pennsylvania Boy Scouts detailed how their scoutmaster raped two of them and committed other sex crimes. The scoutmaster resigned and received well-wishes and praise from BSA officials.
“Good luck to you in your new position,” wrote an official, who accepted the alleged rapist’s resignation “with extreme regret.”
In 1987, a top regional BSA official lamented to the national office that a former scoutmaster convicted of molestation has not been placed on the blacklist. He was told by his boss that the reason for this was that the molester “has done so much for camp and is a nice guy.”
A Maryland leader who admitted to abusing boys in 1990 was allowed to resign and told he could give “whatever reason that he chose.”
“This gave him an opportunity to withdraw from Scouting in a graceful manner to be determined by him,” one BSA official noted. “We also reminded [him] that he had agreed to keep the whole matter confidential and we would not talk to anyone in order to give [him] complete ability to voluntarily withdraw.”
Some molesters carried on abusing other children, and BSA knew all about it.
Arthur Humphries, a 50-year BSA member who won a pair of presidential citations and the Silver Beaver, the Scouts’ top award for distinguished service, was also a serial child molester. After his arrest in 1984, BSA official Jack Terwilliger claimed that nobody at BSA suspected Humphries of any wrongdoing.
That turned out to be a lie; six years earlier, Terwilliger knew of a case in which Humphries repeatedly forced a 12-year-old into mutual oral sex. The crimes were not reported to police and BSA gave Humphries a solid employment reference for a job at a national BSA event.
Humphries was later convicted of abusing 20 Boy Scouts, some only 8 years old, along with an accomplice who had himself been abused by Humphries as a child. He was sentenced to 151 years in prison.
In one particularly shocking case, a scoutmaster at a Rhode Island camp in 1971 found assistant troop leader William Lazzareschi forcing a 12-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him. Lazzareschi confessed to the crime and was kicked out of the Scouts, but police were not informed. BSA records show that the victim was successfully counseled by camp chaplain Rev. Edmond Micarelli.
“Upon Father Micarelli’s recommendation, the parents were not notified,” one document states.
Years later, Micarelli was blacklisted after it was learned that he had raped at least two young Boy Scouts. The Diocese of Providence ended up paying $13.5 million to 36 victims of sex abuse by Micarelli and 10 other Catholic priests.
Incredibly, BSA was sometimes aided by police and at least one child services agency in concealing alleged abuse from victims’ families and the public. In 1984, a Los Angeles BSA official was caught with hundreds of photos of naked Scouts, many of them showing the leader giving enemas to the boys. BSA officials, Los Angeles police and county child services worked closely to keep the case from the public.
“We recognize that this unfortunate situation was no reflection of the Boy Scouts of America whose integrity and reputation must be maintained,” a summary of a meeting between BSA officials and local agencies said.
In a statement posted on the BSA website, Scouting spokesman Deron Smith said, “We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities.”
This policy has been in effect since 2010. Prior to then, BSA policy was to comply with all state laws, which sometimes did not require abuse to be reported.
The revelations that BSA helped conceal child rape and protect pedophile rapists contrasts sharply with BSA policy regarding gay members. “Open or avowed” homosexuals are banned from joining the Scouts or holding leadership positions in the organization. In a 1991 position statement, BSA declared that:
“We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”
Furthermore, BSA stated that it “believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law.”
This July, BSA reaffirmed its discriminatory ban on gay members and leaders.
Atheists and agnostics are also banned from the Scouts, as the very first Scout handbook posits that ”no man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws.”
But while homosexuals and atheists may be officially banned from joining or leading the Scouts, scores, if not hundreds, of staffers who raped and molested boys were protected from their victims’ families and from the law, and at least one pedophile priest associated with BSA also abused boys.
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