Boy Scouts covered up sexual abuse of boys for decades, according to “perversion files.”

Beginning at least in the 1920s, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) kept records of incidents and accusations of child sexual abuse which they referred to as the “perversion files,” according to the LA Times. Every effort was made to cover up these incidents, which were not reported to law enforcement.

Those records have surfaced in recent years in lawsuits by former Scouts, accusing the group of failing to exclude known pedophiles, detect abuses or turn in offenders to the police.

The Oregon Supreme Court is now weighing a request by newspapers, a wire service and broadcasters to open about 1,200 more files in the wake of a nearly $20-million judgment in a Portland sex abuse case last year.

The Scouts’ handling of sex-abuse allegations echoes that of the Catholic Church in the face of accusations against its priests, some attorneys say.

“It’s the same institutional reaction: scandal prevention,” said Seattle attorney Timothy Kosnoff, who has filed seven suits in the last year by former Scouts but was not involved in the Oregon case.

The article focuses in detail on the exploits of one abuser, Rick Turley, who began insinuating himself into scout groups when he was just 18 years old. He learned that scouts provided a ready source of young boys to take advantage of. He actually told the interviewer that “it was easy.” He managed to bounce around to troops in California and British Columbia over nearly two decades.

Turley said one call to police by Scouting officials in 1979 “probably would have put a stop to me years and years and years ago.” Instead, he “went back to the Scouts again and again as a leader and offended against the boys,” said Turley, who said he has learned to control his impulses.

“That person who was Rick Turley was a monster,” he said.

Turley is now 58. Maybe he can control his impulses, maybe not. But I wouldn’t leave him alone with a little boy.

It looks like this could blow up into a huge scandal. I hope the press can get their hands on those files.

10 Comments on “Boy Scouts covered up sexual abuse of boys for decades, according to “perversion files.””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    More from the LA Times piece:

    The Scouts had been keeping these files, in one form or another, since the 1920s, according to the organization. Only a select few had access to them. Their existence was not widely known until the 1990s, when former Scouts began filing sexual abuse lawsuits.

    A confidential 1972 memo that also surfaced many years later in a court case laid out the group’s approach to handling cases of sexual abuse and other misconduct.

    “Indicate [to the accused] that the BSA is not sharing this information with anyone and only wish him to stop all Scouting activity,” wrote Paul Ernst, an executive at the Boy Scouts’ national office. He included a standard dismissal letter, which read in part:

    “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.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hope they have to pay through the nose to every kid who was damaged by these creeps!

      • dakinikat says:

        It seems that all kinds of organizations continually cover up for these offenders. There ought to be laws that protect children that force groups that serve children to report and research backgrounds. I suppose it’s just going to take damaged children and one law suit after another before anything real is done.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        This is disgusting BB, there always have been “jokes” about pedophiles in the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church. My point being that abuse has a history in both of these organizations…so much so that it is used as comedy. I feel so sorry for these kids…

      • foxyladi14 says:

        crazy world we live in today :scared:

  2. Peggy Sue says:

    The shocking thing is that they’ve been keeping records [and hiding evidence] since the 1920s. As soon as I read the headline BB, I thought of the RC abuses, which are shocking and sick. Both institutions have been absolutely cowardly and God only knows how many lives they’ve left in ruin. It’s the perfect cover, too: the Boy Scouts or the Church, standing for one thing, and then allowing the complete opposite sort of behavior from authority figures to go unpunished. Only to prey on other vulnerable children.

    I heard one NY proscecutor say there’s a difference between sick and sickening. Pedophilia falls into the latter category.

  3. quixote says:

    The people I *really* don’t understand are the “normal” ones. The pedophiles themselves are right off scale and not all that common. The real problem is all the enablers. For every criminal, that’s dozens of men, all enabling the crimes to continue. What were they thinking? How did they sleep at night? These were (are) supposedly normal people. They were probably sickened by the crimes, like any other normal person. And yet, it was more important to avoid passing and fairly minor social embarrassment (for them) than to stop the worst crimes in the world.

    There’s some very peculiar and powerful psychological / social forces at work. Has there been any work done on that? “Bystander psych” Sex crimes would be shut down without all the enablers. What’s in it for them?

    • Thursday's Child says:

      For every criminal, that’s dozens of men, all enabling the crimes to continue. What were they thinking?

      Here’s the thing, quixote. The “dozens of men” were probably all sexual abusers in their own way. Maybe they were abusing wives, girls and boys within the context of their own homes and families. Covering up sexual abuse would therefore be in their own best interest, because if we got into the habit of assiduously prosecuting sexual abusers, a large chunk of the male population, including themselves, would probably be behind bars.

      • quixote says:

        That’s what I’m wondering. If they’re all just criminals who haven’t been caught, then their attitudes are consistent. And given the awful frequency of sex crimes, that’s not impossible.

        But I get the sense that there are plenty of men who feel rape or pedophilia are horrible, and yet, when “one of their own” is outed as a criminal, the immediate response is to close ranks.

        That seems fairly weird as a reaction to a crime. That’s not the usual reaction to, say, murder.

        Although I guess back in the day in the South (and probably now, for all I know) a white who murdered a black could count on his buddies to shield him.

        Seems like there’s some important psychology or sociology research to be done there. A social force strong enough to compel criminal accomplice behavior is something that needs to be identified. And its force needs to be measured so that we know what we’re up against and can finally start counteracting it. (Get your colleagues on it, BB! :D)

      • dakinikat says:

        and in turn, those dozens of men were probably abused as children by other predators