Local Scout leaders say measures in place to protect children

Local Boy Scouts of America leaders say they’re protecting scouts from sexual predators, but attorneys are still calling on the national organization to do more.

Between 1944 and 2016, 7,819 leaders and volunteers in the U.S. were removed from the Boy Scouts because of reasonable allegations of child sexual abuse of more than 12,000 youth, according to testimony from Janet Warren, a researcher at the University of Virginia who spent five years decoding the files for the Boy Scouts.

The documents known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files have come to be known publicly as the “perversion files,” which are controlled by the national Boy Scouts organization. Any abuser listed in the files was also turned over to law enforcement, according to statements from the local Miami Valley, Dan Beard and Tecumseh councils.

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“There’s no concern that there’s someone (within the Council) right now, but we always have to make sure that we have the safeguards in place,” said Rob Lavoie, Scout executive and CEO of the Tecumseh Council covering Clark, Champaign, Greene, Clinton and Logan counties.

When a partial list of accusers was released in 2012, there were four allegations of abuse in Dayton and 27 in the Greater Dayton region, according to a database published by the LA Times. The local cases were part of 14,500 pages from the files. In several cases, community leaders such as judges and pastors helped keep the name of scouting out of the courts or the media, according to an Associated Press review of the files.

But local leaders said in addition to the volunteer screening process there are several other measures in place to prevent abusers from accessing youth in local troops and across the nation.

The Boy Scouts requires all registered volunteers to undergo criminal background checks, according to statements. Last year, the organization also began requiring any volunteer who would spend more than 72 hours with youth to become a registered leader, including parents joining their children on a summer camping trip, according to the organization’s website.

Those registered leaders are also required to take a youth protection training course before working with kids. The course teaches volunteers and troop leaders how to spot warning signs of an abused child and of a potential abuser, Lavoie said.

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“The Miami Valley Council has been and will continue to be vigilant in creating barriers that help prevent abuse and educating those involved in Scouting to recognize and report child abuse regardless of where it occurs,” said Miami Valley Council president J. Craig Self and scout executive and CEO Jeff Schiavone in a statement.

The Scouts also require two adults to be with a child at all times and has a 24-hour helpline to receive reports of known or suspected abuse or behavior that might put youth at risk, the leader’s said in statements.

“As leaders who have helped to serve hundreds of thousands of youth over the years, we are personally heartbroken to hear of any child being mistreated, and we are also outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of BSA programs to abuse innocent children,” said Dan Beard Council president Edgar Smith and executive and CEO Tom Dugger in a statement. “This will only further strengthen our resolve toward the protection of our youth.”

But attorneys across the country and locally have said the Boy Scouts are not doing enough, and the national organization needs to release the full list of names. Warren County child sex abuse attorney Konrad Kircher said revealing the list publicly is an important step in the recovery for survivors.

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“Survivors may not know that there were other victims of their perpetrator. Living in that silence and shame can be very devastating and once they realize that the perpetrator had other victims it helps the survivor realize that it hasn’t been his or her fault,” said Kircher, who has handled five Boy Scout sex abuse cases in his career, including one as recently as 2015, and is a veteran attorney of child sex abuse cases involving the Catholic church.

Releasing the names is also a warning to communities who may have predators on the list in other roles where they have access to children.

“Organizations like the Boy Scouts really fumbled the ball when they kept this information silent for so many decades. Countless other children were sexually assaulted because parents of those children did not know that there were predators within the Boy Scouts,” he said.

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Ohio does have some laws that protect survivors and make it easier for them to file suits. Adults who suspect or know of abuse are required to report it. The statute of limitations for civil claims used to be one year from the child’s 18th birthday, so youth would have to take action against accusers by age 19. Now, the statute of limitations is 12 years. For criminal cases, the statute of limitation is 20 years.

But it’s still not enough, Kircher said. Some states have abolished statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases entirely.

“No one knows but the Boy Scouts. We don’t know what information the Boy Scouts still has that they are not releasing,” he said.


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By the number

4,500: Youth members in Miami Valley Council

20: Percent increase in new families joining Miami Valley Council

3,500: Youth members in Tecumseh Council

4: Consecutive years the Tecumseh Council has grown membership

7,819: Accused Boy Scout leaders in U.S. “perversion files”

12,254: Victims within the Boy Scouts between 1944 and 2016

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