Boy Scouts of America answers sex abuse report

4:15 AM, Sep 18, 2012   |    comments
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The Boy Scouts of America is defending its honor.

The group's chief, Wayne Brock, posted an open letter to parents on Monday evening that emphasized the safety procedures it has in place to protect its members. It comes in response to a Los Angeles Times investigation that says the organization hid past child abuse by employees and volunteers and didn't report hundreds of alleged molesters to police.

The Times examined 1,600 files compiled by the Boy Scouts from 1970 to 1991 in which the Scouts documented inappropriate behavior by volunteers. In about 400 cases, there is no record of Scouting officials reporting abuse allegations to police.

Its review showed that in more than 100 cases, "officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it."

Brock's memo outlined the Scouts' safety procedures, which include criminal background checks and training that focuses on how to to recognize, resist and report suspected abuse. It also describes its "two-deep leadership policy," which requires two adults to be present at all activities, and says that no Scout should be alone with a leader.

"The Boy Scouts of America believes that one instance of abuse is far too many," Scout spokesman Deron Smith said earlier Monday.

Among the abuses in the Times report: In 1982, a Michigan Boy Scout camp director who learned of allegations of repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn't promptly report them because his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and the accused staff member.

"He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet," a police report in the file said.

Ed Lamoureaux, a former Scout leader whose 10-year-old son is involved with the group, says from his experience, the Scouts "take this problem very seriously."

Before he supervised a recent overnight camping trip, the they did a fresh background check on him and also required him to become re-certified in its Youth Protection Training.

Reactions to the Times investigation were mixed on the Boy Scouts Facebook page. Some said the organization should do more to safeguard its young members. Others applauded the protective measures that the group already has in place.

The organization has about 2.7 million Scouts and about 1.1 volunteer adults.

By Laura Petrecca

USA Today

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