Boy Scout files on suspected abuse published by The Times
The Times on Tuesday released about 1,200 previously unpublished files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on volunteers and employees expelled for suspected sexual abuse.
The files, which have been redacted of victims’ names and other identifying information, were opened from 1985 through 1991. They can be found in a database along with two decades of files released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court in October. The database also contains summary information on about 3,200 additional files opened from 1947 to 2005 that have not been released publicly.
Together, the material in the database represents the most complete accounting of suspected sexual abuse in the Scouts that has been made public. All of the material was obtained as a result of lawsuits against the Scouts by alleged abuse victims or by media organizations. The Boy Scouts kept the files for nearly a century for internal use only, to keep suspected abusers from rejoining.
About as many files were opened in the six years before 1991 as in the previous two decades. At least in part, that reflects greater reporting of accusations, as awareness of child sexual abuse rose in the Scouts and society at large. About that time, the Scouts launched a concerted effort to train youths and adults on how to identify and prevent sexual abuse.
The files do not represent a complete accounting of alleged abuse in Scouting. Experts say many cases probably were not reported to the national office, and the Scouts say the organization destroyed an unknown number of files over the years.
The latest dossiers — used as evidence in a 1992 court case — are among those reviewed by The Times for a series of stories over the last year, which detailed the Scouts’ repeated efforts to keep allegations from police, parents and the public and its resistance to performing criminal background checks on all volunteers. The BSA’s inaction or delayed response to allegations at times allowed alleged molesters to continue sexually abusing children. Alleged abusers consistently violated a policy, instituted in 1987, prohibiting adults from being alone with Scouts.
The alleged abusers — including doctors, teachers, priests and other professionals — commonly preyed on children without father figures or gained the trust of both parents.
The Boy Scouts of America says it has improved its youth protection policies over time and now is regarded by many experts as a national leader in the field. It has conducted criminal background checks on all volunteers since 2008 and since 2010 has mandated any suspicion of abuse be reported to police.
Among the accusations in the newly posted files:
• Samuel J. Becker of Canoga Park was a Scout committee chairman for four years before the Scouts became aware in 1991 that he had “quite a record in regards to child molestation and had served a prison term” and was on probation for exposing himself.
• Leader Gary L. Findlay of Carol Stream, Ill., was accused of abusing a 15-year-old in 1986, convicted of sexual abuse and expelled from the Scouts. After the arrest, another area scoutmaster wrote to scout executives, saying, “This situation could have been avoided.” He had reported suspicions of abuse to a superior but said he had been ignored. The Scout leader wrote, “I am angry and frustrated by the ineptness of this scouting executive.”
• Beatrice T. Oubre, a transportation volunteer from Morgan City, La., was accused of molesting a 16-year-old Scout in 1988. The Scouts asked Oubre to resign, but there is no indication she was reported to police.
Becker, Findlay and Oubre could not be reached for comment.
Most files opened after 1991 have not been made public, although their release is being sought in various court cases. The brief case summaries posted by The Times, covering 1947 to 2005, were obtained from a Washington attorney whose office prepared them mostly from documents sealed by a court.
Naziri and Gram are researchers for The Times.
Times staff researcher Maloy Moore and staff writer Jason Felch contributed to this report.
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