Boy Scouts Say Opening Molestation Files May Discourage Abuse Reporting


Some 1,247 confidential files on people banned from Boy Scouting for alleged sexual misconduct with children from 1965-85 were put online in fulfillment of a court order in Oregon, says Youth Today. Their release comes a week after a Seattle attorney released a database that describes nearly 2,000 abuse cases in the Boy Scouts from 1971-91. The documents add to a small but growing public trove of once-secret information about abuse in youth-serving institutions – including statistics, offenders' names, and documents that describe the offenses.

The public now has easy access to extensive information about alleged sex offenders in the Scouts, the Catholic Church, several youth sports, and some public school systems. Victims' advocates say such public revelations have brought justice to victims of institutional abuse, empowered victims to come forward and educated the public about how molesters operate in youth organizations. “The paper trail of files clearly documents the long history of sexual abuse within Scouting, as well as the pain and suffering caused to the victims by the Scout leaders,” said Matthew Stewart, a victim who settled a lawsuit with the Boy Scouts in the 1990s. The Boy Scouts of America, which fought the release of its files, issued a statement saying that making them public might “negatively impact victims’ privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse.”

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