Are the Boy Scouts pulling a Vatican with accusations of sexual abuse by troop leaders?

That appears to be what one family is claiming in a lawsuit they’ve filed against the Boy Scouts of America after their son was molested by a troop leader in 2007:

Family sues Boy Scouts in sexual abuse case – latimes.com.

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.

1997 letter from Vatican is “smoking gun” on pedophile priest cover up.

Pic of stained glass window.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious.

From the beginning of the Catholic pedophile priest scandal the Vatican has maintained that it had no knowledge of the problem and was not involved in any official cover up. More than a few people believed that claim to be an outright lie.

It appears they may have been right:

DUBLIN – A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure that victims’ groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests.

The newly revealed letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland’s first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.

The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than give that power to civil authorities.

via Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report abuse – Yahoo! News.

I’d say that I’m outraged, but I’ve been outraged at the Catholic church for so long on this issue that I have very little left. It’s been replaced with indignant disgust. All the Vatican has ever been concerned about over the decades that this abuse has been taking place around the world is the image of the church. The welfare of the children raped by the priests? Well, sure, they’ll tell you it’s a horrible thing they wish had never happened, but they can’t be bothered to actually do anything about other than shuffle the priests around to new locations where they can rape a whole new batch of kids.

OK, that’s not entirely fair. Back in 2008 the Pope did propose one way to solve the pedophile priest problem: Continuous non-stop prayer asking God to cleanse the church of pedophiles. That’s the best he could come up with. Understandable I suppose, when there are so many other greater evils in the world that require his attention like the threat gay marriage poses to society.

Got that? Priests raping kids is not a threat to society the way gays getting married is. Who cares if a few priests diddle a few choir boys and girls if we’re going to allow consenting adults of the same gender to engage in holy matrimony?

The Catholic church lost any claim to being an arbiter of morality a long time ago and as time goes on we see more and more just how deeply corrupt and immoral it really is. The image of the church is considered more important than any other issue and anything that might tarnish that image is suppressed, covered up, and swept under the rug. The Vatican seems to think it and its priests are above the law. You can almost sense how much they covet the power of mullahs and imams in the Middle East to rule by decree.

They don’t care about you or your kids. They only care about maintaining what little power and influence they still have around the world. They are beyond reproach in their own mind. And when they finally are found out and their dirty laundry sees the light of day, they blame everyone and everything other than themselves for their perfidy.

The only question left is how much longer we’ll allow them to get away with it.

With regards to the Collateral Murder video…

The folks at Wikileaks unleashed the following video of American AH-64 Apache chopper gunners opening fire on what they believed to be armed insurgents in Iraq, but which turned out to be a couple of Associated Press journalists and (likely) a bunch of civilians. Later in the video when a van pulls up to try and help one of the wounded journalists the chopper again opens fire killing all the adults and wounding two children in the van. Fair warning: Once seen it cannot be unseen so think about it before deciding to view it:

The Pentagon has been repeatedly hit with Freedom of Information Act requests to release this video over the years and has refused to do so for various bullshit reasons. The real reason they didn’t want to release it is because it’s a monumental fuck up that is embarrassing and which would be used by their critics to denounce the war effort.

I’ve never been in the military so I don’t know a lot about how things are done in a combat zone, but from what I see in this video the soldiers involved acted appropriately – if somewhat callously – based on the information they had on hand; and I can’t really get all that upset about the callousness given the situation they are in. It’s a terrible mistake on their part, but I can’t say they did anything wrong.

The real problem with this video is, as ***Dave points out in his own (much better written) entry on this topic, the fact that the Pentagon tried to hide it:

What I find unconscionable is that, once the evidence was together, the government (or, at least the military) decided to lie.  To not only hide the truth from the world and the nation, but de facto indict the soldiers involved by making what they did effectively too terrible to admit.

If you are honest, and in the right, and fighting on principle, then you admit your mistakes, show you’re trying to learn by them, and move on.  You hold people appropriately accountable. You take responsibility for your actions.  You “man up.”

Instead, now we have this.

The video becomes the very thing you were trying to prevent it from becoming by hiding it. This is why transparency is so important. This is why the government needs to be in the hands of responsible adults who aren’t afraid of accountability.  So that later when you have another fuck up where the soldiers do try to cover it up – such as the botched nighttime raid in Afghanistan that’s been in the news – your commitment to accountability isn’t questioned.