The lawsuit contends the Scouts knew or should have known the leader put the boy at risk and cites a Scout executive’s reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse.
“He said that wasn’t necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation,” said the boy’s mother, whose name The Times is withholding to protect her son’s identity. “I thought that was really weird. … I thought it was really important to call the sheriff right away.”
So she did, triggering an investigation of volunteer Scout leader Al Steven Stein, then 29, who was charged with abusing her son and two other boys. In 2009, he pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment.
He was put on probation but later went to prison after authorities found pictures of nude children on his cellphone data card. Stein’s criminal case is closed. But its fallout is far from over for the boy, who is now 17 and, according to his mother, so traumatized by the ordeal that he seldom leaves the house.
It doesn’t appear that the BSA is engaging in the Vatican Shuffle, but it’s clear they are trying to keep any allegations of abuse covered up to protect their reputation. No one outside of the BSA has any idea how widespread the problem is and the BSA has refused to share any information they have on the issue.
One of the goals of the lawsuit is to force the BSA to reveal what it knows and it appears a judge has decided that’s exactly what they must do:
It contends the files will expose the Scouts’ “culture of hidden sexual abuse” and a failure to warn boys, their parents and others about the “pedophilic wolves” who the suit says have long infiltrated one of America’s oldest youth organizations.
In January, after reviewing some of the files, a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge rejected the Scouts’ argument that the documents are irrelevant to the lawsuit and ordered the organization to turn over the most recent 20 years’ worth of records to the boy’s lawyers by Feb. 24, with victims’ names removed.
The judge ordered the lawyers not to disclose the files publicly. Known as “ineligible volunteer files,” the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this has been an ongoing problem for a very long time. It makes perfect sense that a pedophile would be attracted to getting into an organization such as the Boy Scouts simply because it would put them in a role of authority over children. I’d imagine the same is also true of other youth oriented organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, 4H, or the Girl Scouts. It’s a problem that’s going to occur and one that’s best dealt with openly and honestly so that if someone does make it through the screening process (the BSA does have a screening process, right?) you don’t end up being accused of trying to hide the fact just to protect your reputation.