JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A database compiled by the Los Angeles Times contains information on more than 5,000 people who were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America between 1947 and January 2005 for suspicion of sexual abuse.
The documents are known by many as the "perversion files," while the Boy Scouts refers to them as records on "ineligible volunteers."
The Los Angeles Times posted an interactive map where users can search their area for any documents related to accusations of abuse in their area.
The map shows 22 members of the Boy Scouts of America were banned from scouting leadership in Jacksonville because of suspicion of sexual abuse in that time period. The database gives names of the Boy Scout leaders, troop numbers and details on the allegations, with the names of the accusing party redacted.
Five people were reported in Orange Park, two in Macclenny, one in St. Augustine, one in Hilliard, and two in southeast Georgia.
The L.A. Times released the database back in 2012, but it's back in the spotlight because states across the country are changing their statute of limitations for filing accusations.
On December 1st, New Jersey is giving people who say they were abused more time to file suit. The statute of limitations is changing from age 20 to age 55. That's significant because the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America was in New Jersey from 1954 to 1978.
Vincent Nappo, an attorney with the PCVA law firm in Seattle, has hundreds of clients who say they were abused in the Boy Scouts.
"Most individuals who go through such an awful, horrific trauma like sexual abuse when they're a child don't process it ... until well into their adult life," he said.
A Jacksonville man, who does not want to be identified, is going to file suit against the scouts.
The man we will identify as "Mitch" said he's sharing his story with First Coast News because he "just wants to help people." He said he regrets not telling anyone about his abuse when he was a young boy and a teenager.
"Don't be afraid to tell. You're not going to get in trouble," he said.
Mitch said it all started when his scout leader invited him to a high school jamboree. He was younger than many of the children there and he said his older boys didn't want a kid staying in their tents.
He wound up sleeping by himself in a tent with the scout leader., he said.
"He penetrated, yes," Mitch struggled to say.
He said he was scared the other children would find out.
"It hurt. He tore me. I had to keep doing all the daily stuff," he said. "There was blood."
Mitch was in pain going on hikes, he said, but he didn't complain to the others.
He said the abuse went on for years.
Parents should guard against the schemes of molesters, Mitch said. In his case, he said, the scout leader buttered up his family with dinners and VHS movies. The scout leader gained his parents' trust.
He said the abuse wrecked everything, and he tried to take his own life three times.
First Coast News is not naming the scout leader because no criminal charges were ever filed. However, in the "perversion files", The Boy Scouts of America said the scout leader was accused of "a child molestation incident involving two youngsters" in 1979. A letter from a scout council executive said the accused "admitted to the charges and agreed to seek professional help." The files say the leader was expelled from the organization.
Mitch said children and parents should be open and talk about how molesters can "groom" their victims. Even if a molester threatens that "something bad will happen," go ahead and tell, he said.
"I was told that a 100 times. That's probably my biggest regret. I should have told," he said.
The Boy Scouts of America has given this response to the rash of lawsuits being filed across the country:
"We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.
Barriers to Abuse
In the 1920s, the BSA created a system to bar individuals from Scouting that should not work with youth. That system continues to this day and has been continually updated and enhanced over time. While no system is perfect, the Volunteer Screening Database (VSD) has been and remains a valuable tool in preventing known or suspected abusers from joining or reentering our organization.
The BSA has taken significant steps over many years to ensure that we respond aggressively and effectively to reports of sexual abuse. We recognize, however, that there were instances in our organization's history when cases were not addressed or handled in a manner consistent with our commitment to protect Scouts, the values of our organization, and the procedures we have in place today.
Today, the Volunteer Screening Database – a tool the Centers for Disease Control recommends for all youth-serving organizations – serves as one of BSA's many strong barriers to abuse, which also include:
- Ongoing mandatory youth protection education for all volunteers, parents, and Scouts
- A leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts
- A leadership policy which requires that at least two youth protection trained adults will be present with youth at all times; and prohibits one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text
- Prompt mandatory reporting to law enforcement of any allegation or suspicion of abuse
- A 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
We believe victims and remove individuals based on only allegations of inappropriate behavior. We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many and we are continually improving all of our policies to prevent abuse. This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, and thus allowing all youth-serving organizations to share and access such information. We call upon Congress and other youth-serving organizations to support this initiative.
The BSA also regularly convenes leaders from other youth-serving organizations, as well as experts in the youth protection field. Sharing of information is one of the key focus areas of those discussions. Experts note that among the general US population, one in six men have experienced sexual abuse or assault at some point in their lives. This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed, and we seek to be part of the solution along with all other youth-serving organizations."