Monthly Archives: March 2019

How Many Boy Scouts were Abused?

March 23, 2019

The Boy Scouts of America is considering chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces roughly 250 lawsuits for alleged child sex abuse. The BSA’s insurance carriers are refusing to settle these claims.

Bankruptcy is unavoidable and that is probably a good thing.

Bankruptcy will allow the victims to come forward, confidentially, and be counted. Healing can begin with an accounting of what happened and judicial recognition of the terrible harms that were inflicted upon them.

Most importantly, a bankruptcy filing will encourage victims to come forward and identify their abusers.

Identifying those who victimized them would be a courageous act of civic responsibility that can protect society from their abusers, most of whom remain hidden..

Has the BSA done anything to determine how many children were abused in its programs?

The bankruptcy process will probably show that there are many more victims of abuse in scouting than are represented by the 250 cases now pending.

It may well dwarf what we’ve seen in the Catholic Church cases. Between 1910 and 2012, the BSA quietly removed an estimated 60,000 child molesters from its ranks – and it documented each one in what has come to be known as “the perversion files.”

The New York Times reported in 1935 that the BSA revealed that it had opened almost 3000 files on child molesters who had infiltrated its ranks between 1910 and 1935.

BSA officials testified that in the 1970’s the organization destroyed most of these files in a three-yearlong document shred. But it retained 6700 of them, most of which were published online by the Los Angeles Times in 2012.

Unfortunately the BSA kept no destruction logs so we have no way of knowing how many it destroyed. But the rate it created them was constant– BSA opened on average a new perversion file every other day for a hundred years.

Was the creation of a secret file system, known to very few, actually child protection?

Why didn’t former BSA top officials like former United States Secretary of State and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson or former CIA Director Robert Gates do anything years ago? Did either of them ever look at these files? What if, instead of being violent sexual predators, these 60,000 abusers had been jihadi terrorists infiltrating America? Would powerful men like these have turned a blind eye to them?

The BSA’s boilerplate press releases seem to say that if its programs resulted in scouts being sexually abused, they represented acceptable losses.

FBI research shows that on average a child molester has over a hundred victims over a life time of offending. If you read some of the 17,947 horrifying pages of the surviving 6700 files, the immensity the problem lands like a sledgehammer.

And these files are just the tip of the iceberg as they only account for sexual predators who were identified and removed.

How many were never detected?

Or if caught, how many were simply turned out of the organization instead of reported to the police?

How many of the predators the BSA failed to report, joined other youth organizations and continued abusing children?

We don’t know because BSA officials have never been transparent about the problem.

As widely reported, the files demonstrate that with rare exception, the BSA failed to report these cases to the police or civil authorities. In so doing, BSA officials unleashed monsters on other youth-serving organizations and enabled some to enter back into scouting in other locations, re-registering under altered identities.

It’s almost certain that the surviving perversion files represent a tiny fraction of the abusers who were able to prey on children in scouting.

One hundred years of secrecy prevented community members from learning about these predators’ histories, putting countless children at risk.

But it gets worse…

Five percent of the abusers removed from the organization were not adult volunteers – they were professional scouters who worked at the BSA – the BSA was literally “putting the wolves in charge of guarding the hen house.” Was it surprising to learn that the head of the BSA program for safeguarding scouts from sexual abuse was himself convicted of trafficking in child porn in 2005? The “perversion files” are a veritable treasure trove of criminological information revealing the methods and patterns molesters used to infiltrate the BSA and organizations like it.

To BSA national leadership, these were dirty little secrets that needed to be hidden away under lock and key, to be kept hush-hush in order to safeguard the BSA brand. The many good points of scouting are are overshadowed by the revelations from countless former scouts who have been burdened with incomprehensible lifelong trauma. The BSA estimates that more than 110 million children participated in scouting programs since its inception. Today, the organization claims 5 million members.

Some say scouting has been made safe but the “Scout Safety Program” it touts is too little, too late. Its purpose is public relations – not genuine child protection. It is a genuine question whether scouting as it is presently constituted could ever be made reasonably safe.

The organization’s moral bankruptcy seems to have put it on the path to actual bankruptcy.

But should BSA be allowed to reorganize in bankruptcy and given a “fresh start”? Can an organization that puts children out in the woods, overnight in tents with men whose backgrounds are barely known, ever be made reasonably safe?

Or should Congress revoke BSA’s charter and let the organization be liquidated? If you are concerned about protecting future generations of children, these are questions you should be asking your representatives. The BSA and its legions of high-paid lawyers are undoubtedly hoping that bankruptcy will not produce a flood of additional cases and that only a small fraction of scout victims will come forward. But that would be unfortunate because it would allow the predators to remain hidden.

Let us hope that these courageous scout abuse survivors come forward and say “me, too” – even if it shocks and sickens a nation that for a century placed its trust in “America’s Most Trusted Institution.”

Without the scout survivors stepping forward, we will never know.

It’s Time for Congress to Hold Hearings on BSA Child Sex Abuse

Throughout its 109-year history, Boy Scouts of America has consistently held itself out to the public as a moral and safe environment for young boys to participate in healthy outdoor activities. But as revealed by the “Ineligible Volunteer Files,” BSA has for nearly a century been secretly removing scoutmasters for child sexual abuse at an alarming rate, reaching an average of one every three days in the 1970s.

As a child sexual abuse litigator who has handled more than a thousand cases, I can say without hesitation that BSA’s lax application of screening methods and apparent pattern of cover-ups exposed countless children to the worst of the worst child rapists. The group’s failure to report these monsters to police or civil authorities allowed some of the most sinister offenders to infiltrate other youth-serving organizations and enter back into scouting, re-registering under new identities.

In 2017, America’s “Most Trusted Institution” spent nearly $950,000 in lobbying efforts, much of which went to defeating legislation that would give victims more time to sue their abusers. The egregious nature of the group’s advocacy has drawn scrutiny from at least nine members of Congress.

It’s time for Congress to hold hearings regarding BSA’s long tolerance of child molestation in scouting.

It’s time for Congress to terminate BSA’s federal subsidies until its lobbying efforts stop, and to investigate whether the group should be allowed to renew its Congressional Charter as the oldest and largest youth-serving organization in America.

Congress granted BSA a federal charter in 1916, giving it exclusive rights to the BSA name, badges, descriptive words, markings, and emblems. Boy Scouts of America has derived millions of dollars per year licensing the rights to these federally protected assets. It garners tremendous income from its reward-based system that obligates scouts to purchase badges, emblems, and other paraphernalia.

Besides being endowed by Congress with exclusive economic rights, BSA also receives federal funding, membership dues, private donations, and corporate sponsorship. With an income exceeding $780 million per year, Boy Scouts of America is the 18th largest nonprofit in the United States.

While scouting has been a positive influence on the lives of many millions, the great good it has provided is being drowned out by its unraveling history of allowing child molesters to enter its ranks. In fact, the head of the BSA program for safeguarding scouts from abuse was in 2005 convicted of trafficking child porn.

The roots of the problem run deep, and BSA’s recent lobbying push is reminiscent of an organization that cares more about protecting its brand than bringing child rapists to justice.

Victims of child sex abuse often suffer in silence—preferring to take the shame and humiliation to their graves. Those who come forward even as adults should have legal recourse, but if BSA is allowed to continue its lobbying efforts unchecked, an untold number of child rapists who preyed on scouts may escape exposure and punishment.

Boy Scouts of America is now considering chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces nearly 250 lawsuits for alleged child sex abuse. Its insurance carriers are refusing to settle these claims.

My 25 years’ experience tell me this is just the tip of the iceberg, and BSA is about to be inundated with a flood of lawsuits that will eclipse the Catholic Church bankruptcies we’ve seen over the past 15 years.

Tim Kosnoff is a an attorney, consultant and writer. For twenty five years he represented more than a thousand survivors of child sexual abuse in litigation against churches and secular organizations. Tim’s first civil child sexual abuse sexual abuse case against the Mormon Church resulted in a $3 million dollar settlement. That story was chronicled in the 2011 book The Sins of Brother Curtis by Lisa Davis.

Helena Diocese Files for Bankruptcy, Seeks to Settle 362 Claims of Sexual Abuse

March 7, 2019

Helena Diocese Files for Bankruptcy, Seeks to Settle 362 Claims of Sexual Abuse
 Attorney Dan Fasy to NBC News: The Abuse in the Helena Diocese case was “widespread … (and) some of the most horrific abuse we’ve dealt with.”
Editor’s note:On Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, Montana filed for bankruptcy protection in an effort to settle 362 claims of sexual abuse by clergy. It signals the near end of more than two years of litigation and legal talks.

Kosnoff Fasy, together with three other law firms, filed suit against the Helena Diocese in September 2011, alleging that church officials failed to protect hundreds of minor children from clergy and other employees, who were sexual abusers.

The majority of victims in this case came forward to protect future generations of children. As one victim put it: “It’s wrong what happened to me and to other children. People need to know what happened. I don’t want it swept under the rug.”

The plaintiffs’ legal team includes: Kosnoff Fasy of Seattle, Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind of Missoula, Montana; James Vernon and Weeks of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Joseph Blumel of Spokane, Wash.