New report shows Boy Scouts sexual abuse cases go back decades

A new report finds the organization kept records of thousands of boys who were victims of sexual abuse while participating in the Boy Scouts.

A recent report shows that over 12,000 children were victims of sexual abuse while participating in programs with the Boy Scouts of America. The revelation was the result of an internal investigation of Boy Scout records. The organization’s records show the group would dismiss leaders accused of abuse. The Boy Scouts would then keep these records, referred to by the organization as the perversion file, in the group’s main office in Texas.

The records also indicate the issue of sexual abuse within the organization has a longer history than initially believed. Records are present of abuse occurring as far back as 1940.

If the abuse has been a problem for decades, why is it just now becoming known to the public? With such a long history of abuse, it may come as a surprise that it has taken so long for victims to speak out about the scandal. There are many reasons for the seemingly large passage of time, three common explanations include:

•· Emotional difficulty. Sexual abuse is a violent crime, a crime of power. The abuser exercises power over victims. Victims who come forward must rise above their abuser, a process that takes great courage. It can take a victim time to build this courage and find the strength to hold their abuser accountable.

•· Structural hurdles. The size of the Boy Scout’s organization may have been overwhelming. Like the sexual abuse scandal with the Catholic church, victims of abuse at the hands of Boy Scout troop leaders were taking on a large organization. The scouts reportedly have over 2 million members and an additional 1 million volunteers. The sheer size of the group may have discouraged victims from coming forward.

•· Changes to the law. States throughout the country have changed the laws that govern sexual abuse cases. New York, for example, recently passed a series of laws that give the victims more time to hold their abusers accountable in court.

Will victims find a justice? Previous cases have proven successful. In one criminal case, a court in New York sentenced a troop leader to eight years imprisonment for sexually abusing a boy in his troop. Another success story involves a civil case against the Boy Scouts from 2010, the victim was awarded over 18 million dollars in damages. The case involved a 12-year-old boy who was sexually abused by an assistant troop leader.

These stories can provide encouragement for victims of similar crimes. Justice is possible. Contact an attorney experienced in these cases to help.

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