Los Angeles — A sex abuse support group called on the Boy Scouts of America to oust any official still with the organization who was involved in covering up child sex crimes.
The demand by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests was in reaction to a Los Angeles Times story detailing previously sealed files that it said showed scouting officials "failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public."
The 1,600 "ineligible volunteer" files from 1970 to 1991 reviewed by the Times were obtained through a 1992 lawsuit against the Boy Scouts, the newspaper reported Sunday. The "perversion files" were a blacklist of alleged sexual molesters, it said.
Although the Scouts learned of most of the abuse allegations after they were reported to authorities, the organization learned about more than 500 instances from boys, parents, staff members or anonymous tips, the paper said.
"In about 400 of those cases -- 80% -- there is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police," the Times reported. "In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it."
"Here's the next step in the Boy Scouts child sex abuse and cover up scandal: Every Scout official who knew of or suspected or concealed these heinous crimes should be ousted and, if possible, prosecuted for failure to report possible child sex crimes to law enforcement," SNAP Director David Clohessy said.
The files reviewed by the Times were "from approximately 40 years ago, when the BSA served approximately 5 million young people each year," Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement Monday.
"We have always cooperated fully (with) law enforcement, and now require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to local law enforcement," Smith said.
The Boy Scouts "continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies," Smith said. The organization's current education and training programs to protect children from abuse "are among the best in the youth-serving community," he said.
"It's not enough to say 'we're doing better these days,' " Clohessy said. "Scout officials deceived parents, police and the public about child molesters in the past. How can we believe them when they claim now that they've stopped?"
Prosecutors should look at the files "for men who might still be pursued criminally for committing, causing and concealing devastating child sex crimes," Clohessy said.
"The Boy Scouts of America believes that one instance of abuse is far too many," Smith said. "We regret there have been times when despite the BSA's best efforts to protect children, Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims."