A psychiatry professor hired by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to review files on child sexual abuse within its ranks has found files on 7,819 perpetrators and 12,254 victims, with perhaps still more to come, according to a New York law firm.
Janet Warren, professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, spent about five years reviewing the files and revealed the numbers in a Jan. 30 expert testimony. The law firm, Jeff Anderson and Associates, represented victims of child sexual abuse at the trial and revealed details from Warren’s testimony during an April 23 press conference.
Nearly 5,000 of the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” as the BSA called them, have been entered into court records over the past decades and were collected by the Los Angeles Times, culminating in a 2012 exposé that made 1,900 of the files public and revealed that the BSA appeared to have failed to report hundreds of cases to the police and even worked to conceal some of them.
The BSA said in an emailed statement that it went back decades in its records to report to law enforcement any case where it was unclear whether it was reported or not. The organization maintains a policy that every case has to be reported to law enforcement.
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting,” the statement reads. “We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”
The organization also denied that it “ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth.”
Though BSA started keeping the records as far back as 1919, Warren was only tasked to audit those between 1944-2016, Anderson said.
“This is far from a full disclosure of what the Boy Scouts actually knew,” he said.
Anderson said the law firm has been looking into what could be done about the new information and is now urging victims to come forward in New York, where the Child Victims Act, signed into law in February, allows a one-year period during which victims of child sexual abuse, regardless of their current age, can file civil suits against their abusers. The one-year window opens on Aug. 14, he said. The law also relaxed age restrictions on victims seeking to sue child sexual abusers in general.
“Survivors will now be given a voice and are given a voice to bring an action,” Anderson said.
He stressed that not only could the perpetrators be sued with no statute of limitations, but also the institutions that allowed the perpetrators “to be protected and to access that child.”
During the press conference, Anderson presented a pamphlet that listed 130 names of former New York Scout leaders found in the files that have so far been made public. He couldn’t say, though, if the files indicated that each of the allegations was substantiated.
During a subsequent press conference in New Jersey, he presented a list of 50 former Scout leaders in that state found in the files. In March, New Jersey’s legislature passed a bill similar to New York’s that, after being signed into law, would open a two-year window for child sex abuse victims regardless of age to take civil action.