This seemed too important to just throw into an open thread so here it goes. Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America has an extensive archive of documents chronicling the sexual abuse of young boys by Scout leaders over the years, according to the Associated Press.
The “perversion files,” a nickname the Boy Scouts are said to have used for the documents, have rarely been seen by the public, but that could all change in the coming weeks in an Oregon courtroom.
The lawyer for a man who was molested in the 1980s by a Scout leader has obtained about 1,000 Boy Scouts sex files and is expected to release some of them at a trial that began Wednesday. The lawyer says the files show how the Boy Scouts have covered up abuse for decades.
On Friday, testimony from a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responsible for a Scout troop of church members suggested the Scouts never provided training about spotting abuse or preventing it.
The trial is significant because the files could offer a rare window into how the Boy Scouts have responded to sex abuse by Scout leaders. The only other time the documents are believed to have been presented at a trial was in the 1980s in Virginia.
The details of the case are obviously tawdry. I feel for the young man who was victimized. I can’t help but think this kind of thing is prevalent in a situation where young people are entrusted to adults in a patriarchal institution whether it be the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts or the Mormons (who were also involved in this case). I know at my church we have responded to this type of abuse by making sure that no child is left alone with clergy, adults must leave their doors open at all times and all our classes are co-ed, including female teachers. It is different from when I went to Catholic school — and with good reason.
What have your churches, schools or outside groups done to prevent sexual abuse? What do you think these older institutions can do to reform themselves so that their children do not become sexual abuse victims?
In somewhat related news, the debate on Catholic priest celibacy and women deacons was re-opened last week as an Austrian cardinal questioned both tenets of the church, according to the Times Online of the UK. The discussion in the comments thread was interesting, too.