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The Perversion Files
September 16, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

When volunteers and employees were suspected of sexually abusing children, Boy Scout officials often didn't tell police, files from 1970-91 reveal. A Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (108 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh. This is my shocked face.
posted by axiom at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Faith-based communities help children develop moral fiber and character
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2012 [61 favorites]


Nation's 10-Year-Old Boys: 'If You See Someone Raping Us, Please Call The Police. Doesn't Matter Who, Doesn't Matter Where'
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [31 favorites]


So, basically find-and-replace for the Catholic Church sex scandal, complete with let's-blame-the-gays.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:10 PM on September 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm an Eagle Scout. I was already upset about BSA's stance on gay scoutmasters. Now this shit.

This hurts my heart.
posted by epilnivek at 2:12 PM on September 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


At first I thought this might be a local incident in LA, but now reading it, I see that the national BSA has been keeping lists of unreported child rapists since fucking 1919?

Burn it to the fucking ground.
posted by kafziel at 2:22 PM on September 16, 2012 [74 favorites]


Ugh. I wish I could say this comes as a surprise, but it's hard not to suspect things when a large organization makes a huge big deal about preemptively scapegoating and "keeping the scary gays away from the children".
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's the blacklist that dates back to 1919 that boggles me. The rest of it is still shocking, but we've heard the story enough times with other institutions that it's sadly no longer a surprise.
posted by immlass at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2012


Child molesters need access to children. To get this access, they need to put themselves in a position of power over children. Any group or organization that works with children is going to attract a lot of child molesters. They will coach, teach, preach, babysit -- whatever can put them in a position to do what they want to do.

I would guess that every single large organization that works with children has a comparatively high rate of pedophiles working there. As organizations don't really want to be known as the "Pedophile Organization," they do their best to hide and downplay the abuse.

The Church scandal wasn't about the Church. This isn't about the Boy Scouts. This is about pedophiles being drawn to working with children, and organizations wanting to protect their name.

I would think the solution would be to require some sort of psychiatric screening test for employees, a requirement that the organization tailor the rules of its organization to try to prevent adults from being alone with children, criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting if anyone remains silent, and taking away the non-profit status of organizations that break these rules.
posted by flarbuse at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


So much for promising to do their best. As an old British Scout (and ex-leader) this is not what Scouting should be about. First line of the Scout law is that "a scout is to be trusted", I don't trust the US Scouting organisation to handle this properly.
posted by arcticseal at 2:45 PM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I find this extremely disappointing. I spent many years in Boy Scouts as a kid, and it saddens me that this was handled so poorly. The cowardly efforts to protect the name and reputation of the BSA server only to damage it even further.
posted by hwestiii at 2:47 PM on September 16, 2012


Between the holy sanction of Vatican sex abuse and the ambiguous messaging around the Sandusky case, I think prosecutors need to make a big, bright, sky-high scorched-earth example of BSA.

It's important that the next time the CEO of some Men Working With Children Inc. type organization has an internal report detailing sex abuse allegations on his desk, his decision to instantly call the police and tell them everything he knows is made blissfully easy by the smoking hole in the ground where the BSA used to be.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:48 PM on September 16, 2012 [124 favorites]


The Church scandal wasn't about the Church. This isn't about the Boy Scouts. This is about pedophiles being drawn to working with children, and organizations wanting to protect their name.

This is about these organizations wanting to protect their name by protecting known pedophiles from legal action and endangering children.

And no, I don't think it's an accident that there has been a string of these scandals centered around conservative, anti-gay organizations.
posted by Myca at 2:49 PM on September 16, 2012 [61 favorites]


I had a shitty experience in Boy Scouts in the 1960s that had nothing to with sex or religion. The scoutmaster had a clear conflict in interest by owning a camping supplies store and required frequent overnighters with 5-plus mile hikes round trip (using backpacks bought at his store). Then he interrupted our attendance at a Jamboree, where I was working on three merit badges, to hike up and down a mountain, I started coming down with the flu on the overnight, and was ignored on the return trip as I got sicker and sicker, stumbled and slid part of the way down on my bloody knees. I (and my parents) then realized that this was not character-building in the least.

Sorry, but in my adult life, EVERY man I've met who had volunteered the information that he was an Eagle Scout was a total asshole. (Of course, considering how most of them turned out to be liars and crooks, many were probably lying about that too... it's an easy thing to lie about that almost never gets fact-checked)

Still, my experience showed the BSA to be more BS than anything else.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:49 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Church scandal wasn't about the Church. This isn't about the Boy Scouts. This is about pedophiles being drawn to working with children, and organizations wanting to protect their name.

Yes, it definitely is about the Church and the BSA, since they are the organizations that are so invested in protecting their reputations that they're willing to sacrifice children to do it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:52 PM on September 16, 2012 [38 favorites]


Flarbuse, it is about the organization once they institutionalize covering up horrific acts of abuse by people in a position of extreme trust.
posted by lordaych at 2:54 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"every single large organization that works with children has a comparatively high rate of pedophiles working there"....

Perhaps we don't need to use such a wide brush with this.....
posted by HuronBob at 2:54 PM on September 16, 2012


Yes, definitely about the church and BSA. Covering up abuse for decades is as bad as it gets.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:55 PM on September 16, 2012


I can't think anybody is surprised by this. People like/want to think aberrant behavior is exceptional. And it's only been recently that we've come to the conclusion, because of vast, can't-be-ignored patterns that we realize that child molesters can't stop on their own.

Scout masters, coaches, priests, etc. are people that are respected in their communities. Nobody wants to tell on a guy they like and when someone does, people like to handle it by making that person go away. Countless children have paid for this disservice. Child molesting is shameful to all involved and people want to hide their shame. The Scouts, the Catholic Church, the football program, etc. are enormously popular and people want these 'special groups' to not have feet of clay.

What's becoming clear is that there are no special groups and those that claim to be moral authorities really aren't.
posted by shoesietart at 2:55 PM on September 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't even... Really? All the whinging about gay people and they were sheltering pedophiles? This is not demonstrating honorable character. This is some of the worst kind of self-interestedness I've ever seen. Can we revoke their merit badges?
posted by smirkette at 2:56 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


A-ke-la we'll do our best! DYB, DYB, DYB, DYB! Cubs: We'll DOB, DOB, DOB, DOB!

I am so glad my cub scout troop just had drunkard leaders who let us just play murderball and floor hockey during meetings and hunt for snakes and frogs when we camped.

(Mind you it was an unpleasant shock when I graduated to Boy Scouts and the troop got serious. A metaphorical end of summer moment.)
posted by srboisvert at 2:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This isn't about the Boy Scouts.

"In 1982, a Michigan Boy Scout camp director who learned of allegations of repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn't promptly report them because his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and the accused staff member.

"He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet," according to a police report in the file."

I mean, that's an organizational decision. That is the higher levels and that is official policy. Are you saying that everyone does it therefore it's not about the Boy Scouts? Because if what you're saying is that it wasn't about the organization I would say that is wrong. It looks like official Boy Scout policy was to hide and protect rapists and abusers and they changed their policy in 2010, meaning that it's possible for an organization to decide not to abet rape and abuse.

There's a larger culture out there that minimizes rape and focuses on protecting rapists against accusations instead of protecting victims, and that is improving in some ways. That culture doesn't excuse the organizational decision to hide these people when they were abusing boys over and over again.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2012 [20 favorites]


Oddly enough, I had an actual good (if bumpy) time in the Boy Scouts and know of no abuse in my squad/group/whatever it was called.

Not to excuse these horrible incidents or the long history of them, but it was and still is possible for a boy to have a worthwhile time in the Boy Scouts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:04 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The CBC's Fifth Estate show broadcast Scout's Honour last year, based on their co-investigation with the LA Times.

That link goes to the main page for that show, which includes a full length video that is visible only in North America (sorry!). However, the sidebar includes several useful links, including an interactive timeline of the confidential lists maintained by the BSA.
1935: The "Red" List: The New York Times publishes an article describing something called the "Red" List. The list was mistakenly believed to be names of men removed from scouting over concerns about connections to communism. The Chief Scout at the time clarified it was a list of men ejected for incompetency or sexual deviancy. ...
posted by maudlin at 3:13 PM on September 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


One of the scout masters of my troop growing up, a guy who had been a scout himself in the same troop, an Eagle Scout himself, was found to have molested kids in the troop. I remember all of us being interviewed individually about what we knew, whether we'd been treated in appropriately, etc. (I never had and had no idea this had been going on, but friends did.) This would have been the eighties. Even though I wasn't victimized, this was a guy I knew well, had looked up to, and had been alone with just him and the other children in the wilderness many times. It was pretty fucked up when all this shit came down. Especially since he'd probably had a 25 year history with the troop and who knows what went on that some kids never talked about.

Anyway, they nailed this dude to the wall and last time my dad and I talked about it (my dad was also a scout master), he was still in prison.

I can honestly say that despite this, scouting was on the whole was a very positive thing in my life. It's upsetting to read about this and see the way they've dig in on the exclusion of gay people. I really want to expose my boys to the kind of friendships and experiences I had, but at this point there's just no way.

Scouting isn't a 2000 year old institution with an absolute authority at the top, answerable only to god. There's absolutely no excuse for not cleaning up this shit in a big way *right now.* Not that the church is excused either, but I expect much more from a less centralized, relatively young organization created for the development of young men.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:14 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seemed to me that there was no more blackly satirical comment on the whole situation than the one quote from the BSA's own report: "Upon Father Micarelli's recommendation, the parents were not notified."

I thought that to myself, then continued to read the article -- which states Father Micarelli was in fact himself an alleged child rapist, in later years. If I were the author of that story, I would have rejected that little detail as "just too much," but life is not obligated to be believable in its awfulness.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:16 PM on September 16, 2012 [23 favorites]


I wouldn't say it's not about Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church. Rather, it goes beyond the Boy Scouts and the Church. The more esteemed and authoritarian the institution, the more prone to corruption, precisely because the institution enjoys such esteem and and rules itself with such unquestionable authority.
posted by 2N2222 at 3:18 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is my understanding that a scout master of the troop I was involved with in the late 80s/early 80s was also sent to prison for molestation. Even at the time, I thought it was a little weird that he invited favored scouts to the sauna in his house and have no regrets about my life-long prudery.
posted by Slothrup at 3:20 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


"late *70s/early 80s*"
posted by Slothrup at 3:20 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with 2N2222. Unfortunately, corruption of this nature can happen any organization.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:21 PM on September 16, 2012


"I see that the national BSA has been keeping lists of unreported child rapists since fucking 1919?"

To be fair, before the Rape Shield laws of the 1970s there may have been some horrible and bad but non-evil justification for kicking out a rapist and keeping things quiet, namely the safety of the victim, but wow is that not what happened. Its been clear for a while that the BSA has had some serious skeletons in its closet, but damn.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:23 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Quaker meeting I attend has been having a really vicious argument over how stuff like this ought to be handled. It's not, thank goodness, about any actual incidents of child abuse. The question is just whether we ought to require background checks and how-to-report-abuse training for anyone who's working with kids in a Sunday-school-type capacity. But even that has led to some really ferocious upset feelings.

One bunch of people are loudly and angrily saying "Look, guys, this is just a precaution. We're not accusing anyone of anything." And another bunch of people are loudly and angrily saying "This used to be a community where people trusted each other. Why are you making everything so nasty and confrontational? If we can't take each other at our word then I don't want to belong to this church anymore." And so it's only been very, very slowly that we've made any sort of progress.

The coverup in the BSA went way beyond that, obviously: the evidence here suggests that it was well-organized evil, and not just innocent well-meaning people who are too busy being nice to solve the problem. (Lemme make that even more unambiguous: FUCK the BSA. What a bunch of treacherous asswipes.)

But I also think it's really puzzling how resistant people are to taking steps that might help with this stuff. Or... not even puzzling. I get the urge to say "We're all Nice People! We don't need to think about this stuff here!" But oh man is it a counterproductive urge, and it makes me feel like there's gonna need to be some serious cultural changes in addition to all the much-needed prosecutions before we make real progress against this shit.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:32 PM on September 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


maudlin, thank you for that link. Here's a quote from a 1952 letter I found there, from a Regional Commissioner of the BSA in Ontario:

In one instance one of our United Church sponsored groups had recommended a leader who had been convicted in the Toronto Courts of improper relations with small boys. I can assure you that the Chairman of that Group Committee was most appreciative when I was able to pass that confidential information on to him, and they were able to find other spheres of activity for the leader in question, which would take him away from the Boys' Class that he was then teaching, and from the Cub Pack where they had expected that he would give them leadership.

Even considering that it was the 1950s, I am stunned that the BSA attempted to find any "other spheres of activity" for such a man, other than picking his teeth out of the sidewalk outside of the building.

This is making more of an impression on me than it should, perhaps, because my own high school doctor's child porn arrest was on the front page of Boston.com this week. I never knew him to act unprofessionally, nor did I hear rumors from the boys at the boarding school when I was there, but there we were, all of us, trusting him all that time. I'm filled with a terrible sadness, and a need to worry away at this issue, and Gary Jules' cover of "Mad World" in my head.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:36 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


As organizations don't really want to be known as the "Pedophile Organization," they don't shield pedophiles at the expense of children.
posted by DU at 3:49 PM on September 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Lazzareschi "admitted his role in the act" and said he'd never done it before, the file states. He was expelled from Scouting and told to stay away from the boy. Nothing in the file indicates the Scouts called police.

The records do show that the boy was counseled "with positive results" by the Rev. Edmond C. Micarelli, the camp's Catholic chaplain.

"Upon Father Micarelli's recommendation, the parents were not notified," a report states.

Micarelli's reasoning was not explained. But in 1990, he also wound up on the blacklist after a man told a Scouting official that the priest had raped him and his younger brother as boys. In 2002, the Diocese of Providence paid $13.5 million to 36 victims who sued Micarelli and 10 other priests, alleging sex abuse dating to at least 1975.


I just...I don't even know anymore. It almost looks like the Catholic Church and BSA were colluding for decades on the abuse of boys and its coverup.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


When my kids were scout age I was Cub Master for a few years, then Assistant Scoutmaster, did Woodbadge training, and was then Scoutmaster. For a number of years I co-led the troop with two other guys, both of whom had a lot of experience in scouting.

One year we had a spring campout, the 20th of April (in lower Michigan). This was a council wide event and part of the theme involved the scouts making their own shelters, as opposed to using tents. There were lean-tos made of brush, shelters made of canvas and plastic, many of the kids were pretty creative and, since it was the end of April, warmth and durability weren't a huge issue. The temps on Saturday were in the 60's, beautiful spring weather. At the campfire that evening it clouded over and began to rain, the temperature was dropping.

We headed the kids back to our area, by the time we hit our tent the snow had started, by 1 am it was a whiteout, by 3am we had about 12 inches on the ground, and on the homemade shelters the kids were in.

Ed and I were secure, we poked our head out once in a while to make sure the shelters were still there. We had set up about 100 yards away from the kids, we always believed that they needed a bit of independence, and it kept us from listening to late night laughter and stories. At 4 am or so we heard a kid yelling, his shelter had collapsed on top of him. He was probably fine, and would have been well insulated until morning, but instead of staying put he dashed out of the homemade tent and headed for our tent, in 12 feet of wet snow, 30 degree temps, in nothing but his underpants. He got to our tent, we dragged him inside. He was wet, he was shivering, and he was soaked. All the fires had been put out by the rain and the snow and we were snowed into the campground, there was no way anyone was driving out before the snow plows came.

Without a word Ed pulled the kid into his sleeping bag with him, the kid stayed there until morning when we could go dig out his clothes (we couldn't have even found his shelter in the dark, it was flat with 12+ inches of snow on it).

This was back in the 80's, I stayed connected to Ed for a lot of years. At one point, after all these incidents started to hit the fan we had that conversation. "I couldn't have done that now." Ed said. And, he was right.

There's a lot of sadness about the facts that there are individuals who threaten to ruin this for all boys, and the adults that love teaching them, and an organization that failed its duty in such an significant manner. The reality is that, at this point, the BSA should probably disband.
posted by HuronBob at 3:54 PM on September 16, 2012 [39 favorites]


The thing I wish we could burn to the ground is the anxious fallacy of composition that prompts tribes to circle the wagons when positions of trust/authority they've given out become tools of abuse.

The funny thing? An institution can *credibly* deny responsibility if they freely admit it's possible they're made of *people* -- some of which sometimes do terrible things -- and just allow the possibility of investigation and guilt that flows from that. It's only once an org turns away from this course and tries to cover things up that they're involved and share the burden of the crime as accessories.

So what prompts them to often do exactly that?

I think we could better hack at the root if we could figure out how to answer and address that question.

I would believe institutions where people assume divine or any other kind of enlarged moral authority have a greater problem with this than others. But it clearly isn't just scouting or churches, you see it in law enforcement, you see it in business, you can probably find it anywhere where there's authority and reputation.
posted by weston at 3:55 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ok, that was 12 inches of snow, not feet.. heh... EDIT WINDOW!
posted by HuronBob at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was a Girl Scout for many years and still have several friends involved in Girl Scouting. I knew amazing leaders in scouts--teachers and accountants and nurses and one very memorable nurse-soldier--some single, some married to dudes and several lesbians. I have never, ever heard of any pedophilia allegations in Girl Scouting. So I think maybe take a step back before saying this happens in any group working with kids.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


This is some bang-up, old-school, do-your-homework, truth-to-power journalism. I love it.
posted by swift at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


But I also think it's really puzzling how resistant people are to taking steps that might help with this stuff.

Imagine society had a problem with vampires. People were turning up dead drained of blood with the puncture marks in their necks. The whole nine yards. Naturally, there'd be a huge uproar and witch hunt against the pale, those who work nights, those who stare at pale necks too long. And if some goth kids got caught up in it, well, that's the price we pay for keeping ourselves safe. Hell, any of us could pick one out on the street at night. Pale skin, cape, that's obviously one.

But if the vampires looked like--and could be--everyone, that's much more terrifying, isn't it? That suggests the universe is not a justly ordered place where you can pick out the monsters by sight or by feel or by vibe.

The idea that we live in a well-ordered and just world is an established fallacy in social psychology. Likewise, there's the normalcy bias and the bystander effect.

We like to think it--whatever it is--won't happen to us, if it did happen to us, it would surely be deserved or logical for some reason, and if we were lying bleeding on the ground, someone would surely help.

Admitting the world is a chaotic place where a molester may be the trusted coach or mentor and not the guy with the creepy mustache that we can easily pick out and that people would be more likely to try and cover their ass than actually help is terrifying on a mental level and goes against some pretty significant biases that are common in everyone's cognitive processes.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:10 PM on September 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


I have never, ever heard of any pedophilia allegations in Girl Scouting.

The Girl Scouts also have very strict regulations about being alone with campers/younger scouts, buddy systems, etc. I can't recall all the specifics from my camp days, but there was a lot of emphasis on avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.
posted by limeonaire at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was always a little bit wary of my scout leader. I was a mouthy littel kid, and he never liked me. But there was a little /too/ much visiting at home I was not invited to...

Hmmm.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:21 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was back in the 80's, I stayed connected to Ed for a lot of years. At one point, after all these incidents started to hit the fan we had that conversation. "I couldn't have done that now." Ed said. And, he was right.

No, he was wrong. There was another adult present, and it was a righteous survival situation - as in the kid could have gone hypothermic while trying to evacuate him out of camp.

This is the kind of paranoid delusional thinking that leads to abuse being covered up - people are too damn obsessed with the image that they forget, completely, the underlying reality. A kid was in danger, two adults took steps to guarantee his safety - are you saying in an identical situation, he's now going to let a child get hurt to protect his image?

Maybe the Scouts isn't the best place for someone who thinks that way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:22 PM on September 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Girl Scouts also have very strict regulations about being alone with campers/younger scouts

So do the Boy Scouts. I guess rules aren't always worth much.
posted by BeeDo at 4:22 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


flarbuse: "I would think the solution would be to require some sort of psychiatric screening test for employees, a requirement that the organization tailor the rules of its organization to try to prevent adults from being alone with children, criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting if anyone remains silent, and taking away the non-profit status of organizations that break these rules."

Right here. Well not sure how accurate psychiatric tests are. And requiring adults to never be alone with children would be difficult to do. However I strongly believe that organizations and people who remain silent and more so for those who actively seek out methods to hide the molesting should be treated no differently than those who do the actual raping themselves. This would include equal prison sentences.
posted by 2manyusernames at 4:24 PM on September 16, 2012


Yeah, alas.
posted by limeonaire at 4:24 PM on September 16, 2012


Given their prominence in BSA, I will be interested to see if the media looks into the Mormons to see what their involvement is in this scandal, if any. This is all I could find with some quick googling.

And now I am going to go play with my pups in an attempt to get away from this ugliness.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:26 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Admirably blunt use of the word "bogus" in the 3rd graf.
posted by feckless at 4:31 PM on September 16, 2012


How would a "psychiatric screening test" help? I'm not familiar with such tests, but wouldn't a pedophile who is trying to get into the BSA so as to abuse kids -- or even a pedophile who is trying to get into the BSA for other reasons, potentially even good reasons -- be on the lookout for questions that would peg him as a pedophile?
posted by Flunkie at 4:32 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


How would a "psychiatric screening test" help? I'm not familiar with such tests, but wouldn't a pedophile who is trying to get into the BSA so as to abuse kids -- or even a pedophile who is trying to get into the BSA for other reasons, potentially even good reasons -- be on the lookout for questions that would peg him as a pedophile?

My understanding is that these tests consist of more than "Sex with kids: good or bad?" Hell, at the rate things are going, they probably ought to start asking your thoughts on gay marriage.
posted by Myca at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the record, the Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts) already have rules about never having an adult and child alone together, going back to at least 1987 when I started Cub Scouts. In Boy Scouts it was at least 2 boys with one adult, I don't honestly don't remember if 2 adults and one boy was allowed or not.

These rules are supposed to be followed strictly enough that a boy wasn't supposed to be alone even with his dad during the duration of the BSA activity.

So lack of rules is not the problem.
posted by BeeDo at 4:41 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


What questions other than "Sex with kids: good or bad?" (if answered honestly) can predict whether a person is a pedophile or not, to any reasonable degree of accuracy?
posted by Flunkie at 4:44 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One more than I'll leave it alone: there must be something that makes a person stupid when they get to a certain level of an organization. The article talks about how BSA was trying to maintain a nationwide blacklist of child abusers to keep them out of scouting. So, heart in the right place.

But what goes through a person's mind when they add Some Guy to a child molester list, and then doesn't pick up the phone and call the police? Why go so far, but not the one thing further that really makes the difference? Is it not obvious that if you are known as "the organization that puts child molesters in prison" you will have less would-be molesters sign up? If you aren't going to care, then why keep a list at all?

It boggles the mind.
posted by BeeDo at 4:50 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


[It is not ok to equate homosexuality with pedophilia here. Feel free to use the contact form if you have questions. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:51 PM on September 16, 2012 [38 favorites]


This is one of those things that doesn't register as news to me.
posted by bleep at 4:53 PM on September 16, 2012


Our time seems to be one of amazing levels of public and private corruption: Rome; Wall Street; DC; it never ends. Some crimes do merit execution for deterrent and prevention and justice reasons.
posted by SteveLaudig at 4:56 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, I had an actual good (if bumpy) time in the Boy Scouts and know of no abuse in my squad/group/whatever it was called.

Not to excuse these horrible incidents or the long history of them, but it was and still is possible for a boy to have a worthwhile time in the Boy Scouts.


That's beside the point - whether you had fun or not, you were as unsafe as the boys who were molested, because the national organization didn't consider protecting you a high priority. You got lucky - your Scoutmasters weren't pedophiles (or the boys targeted didn't come forward, or their reports were silenced, we can't know - but most likely the adult leaders weren't pedophiles). Scouting is fantastic, but no organization operated for children should put the reputations of the organization and of participating adults ahead of the safety of the kids. BSA deserves the same blistering condemnation as Joe Paterno.
posted by gingerest at 4:59 PM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Let me be super clear, Jondo. If you need to discuss this, find the contact form and reach us there. Leave this thread alone, you are doing a very bad job of participating.]
posted by cortex at 5:21 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


A-ke-la we'll do our best! DYB, DYB, DYB, DYB! Cubs: We'll DOB, DOB, DOB, DOB!

It is only marginally on topic, but I've always thought 'dib dib dib, dob dob dob' was some random nonsense. Realising it is an acronym has made me go 'ah'.

THE MORE YOU KNOW.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:27 PM on September 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


BeeDo, that's not unusual in organizational terms; if the worry/concern about the organization is allowed to be more important than that of hypothetical future victims, then you can indeed keep track of troublemakers (so as not to let them cause more trouble for the organization) without getting the authorities involved (because the resultant publicity will almost certainly cause trouble.)

BSA relies on the trust of parents enrolling their kids to keep going. Revealing that any kids might be at risk jeopardizes the entire organization's existence.

Not that this is any excuse whatsoever; any moral person should be willing to see all of BSA go under rather than see a single child molested.
posted by emjaybee at 5:31 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the problem with elaborate private symbol systems. You squint at 'em the wrong way and they go all to gibberish.

(When I end up in a group of people with some weird-ass routine that nobody can explain, I like to imagine it's a super-secret Masonic ritual that even the participants aren't allowed to understand. It makes lab meetings a lot more tolerable, for instance.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:33 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


are you saying in an identical situation, he's now going to let a child get hurt to protect his image?

No, I'm saying we would have found another solution, because there WERE other solutions (ie: take him to the van we came in on, get the heat going, send someone to get dry clothes). He meant that he wouldn't have chosen the solution he did, and, given that he was a smart guy that cared about kids, he was right, that was not "delusional" thinking.

Please don't tell me one of the finest leaders and gentlemen I've ever known shouldn't be in scouts.
posted by HuronBob at 5:49 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


BeeDo: These rules are supposed to be followed strictly enough that a boy wasn't supposed to be alone even with his dad during the duration of the BSA activity.

Your troop may have had it's own policies, but general scout rules permit a parent (and yes the rules apply to parents of both sexes) to be alone with their own children, even during scouting activities. The relevant Youth Protection Training is online, in case anyone wants to see what the current policies are.

My problem with Youth Protection Training is that the policies are designed to protect the organization rather than necessarily protect the scouts. For instance, according to the policy, a 17 year eleven month old alone in a tent with a ten-year-old is just fine; an eighteen-year-old leader alone with a seventeen-year-old scout is a no-no.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:51 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking of "weird-ass routine", my favorite back then was to introduce all the new scouts to the ancient spiritual ritual practiced by the indigenous people of the area. All the scouts would stand in a circle around the campfire and recite the powerful phrase "Ohwa tagoo Siam", picking up the pace as it is recited over and over, with the instruction to sit down when they came to the great understanding.
posted by HuronBob at 5:53 PM on September 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I would've been weirded fully the fuck out if my scoutmaster "pulled [me] into his sleeping bag with him" whether "without a word" or not. Maybe he should've "found another solution" regardless.
posted by Flunkie at 5:55 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I would've been weirded fully the fuck out if my scoutmaster "pulled [me] into his sleeping bag with him" whether "without a word" or not. Maybe he should've "found another solution" regardless.

Er... that's what you're meant to do in that situation, particularly if you've not really got means of drying the kid off. (Sleeping bags will warm you up better if you've not got clothes on, btw, so putting clothes on the kid first likely wouldn't make sense.)
posted by hoyland at 6:02 PM on September 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


Holy shit. I just had a flashback to an until-now-forgotten summer at Boy Scout camp in... 1968 or 1969, something like that. I was 8 or 9, and I sort of vaguely remember being bullied by bigger kids. And I remember now that an older boy - a teenager, although I don't recall if he was another scout or some kind of leader or counselor? - let me sleep in his cot with him... That night, he masturbated by rubbing his penis between my butt cheeks (without penetration, I assume, because THAT I'd remember). All this talk about camping and scouts and shit must have brought it back - up til now the only thing I really remembered was getting to shoot a rifle for the first time.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 6:02 PM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, skin to skin contact is a pretty accepted hypothermia treatment. I remember having to do this to a guy who fell in an icy pond while i was in the army.
Meaning, keeping with the theme of survivalism and camping and "what to do" when things go wrong, putting him in the sleeping bag with a warm body is a correct answer.
posted by das_2099 at 6:05 PM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Regardless of whether it's what you're "meant" to do, it would've weirded me out, and I doubt that I'm anywhere near alone in that. Moreover, he certainly had other means available, as has actually already been described by the person telling the story.
posted by Flunkie at 6:06 PM on September 16, 2012


Sorry my comment was @flunkie.
Of course, maybe you would have been freaked out. Maybe me too!
But squeamishness tends to go away with a need to survive.
Of course, they had the van.
So, maybe my post is a useless internal conversation made external
:)
posted by das_2099 at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always figured many scoutmasters were callous jerks or worse.I broke my arm at a scout meeting and they didn't even bother to use to opportunity to let the pack try any first aid on me, which I would have welcome. The scoutmasters looked at it and decided I wasn't screaming loud enough for it to be broken, I'm pretty sure "he isn't pissing his pants" is not an evaluation technique taught in the handbook. I could have used a splint, a sling improvised out of those dumb bandanas we wore. We all had badges in this stuff and I got nothing. All that training failed us at the crucial moment, someone is actually injured and we didn't even make a splint out of twigs or anything.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:23 PM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


We need to have a national conversation about rape culture and why raping people is generally seen as no big deal. For all the cultural obsession with homosexuality, I would unfortunately not be in the least bit surprised if there were more rapists in the US than gay people. (NOT DRAWING ANY EQUIVALENCE OTHER THAN NUMERICALLY.)

We need to come to the realization that child rape is more endemic than aberrant. I don't know what the fuck to do with that knowledge either-- it's scary. But it's a thing.

I suspect that the way forward lies somewhere in being simultaneously more compassionate and more zero-tolerance: showing empathy and support for people who are sexually attracted to children, while making a better effort than the piss-poor one we're currently making to be clear that acting on it IN ANY WAY is NOT OKAY.
posted by threeants at 6:32 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, he was wrong. There was another adult present, and it was a righteous survival situation

Ah, but he's probably right that it would have caused an uproar and led to his ejection from scouting, even if nothing happened -- because hypercorrection is the way we deal with things like this societally. It's why the BSA kept gays out, period, rather than dealing with the actual molesters as such.

Even considering that it was the 1950s, I am stunned that the BSA attempted to find any "other spheres of activity" for such a man, other than picking his teeth out of the sidewalk outside of the building.

I'm old enough -- b. 1963 -- to remember the era "before" today's conventional wisdom took hold. In 1950, there remained a strong bias against the victim of any sexual crime; I wouldn't be surprised (I haven't looked yet) to find in the BSA records statements about adult males being unable to avoid the "temptation" of a "seductive" boy. This only began to change with the advent of feminist thought about rape and domestic violence around 1970. {Datapoint: the "gag" in the opening credits of The Odd Couple where Tony Randall's wife wags a frying pan at his head.} Attitudes about molestation came gradually more open in the next decade. {Datapoint: Bill Murray's "funny uncle" character in early SNL.} It was still mostly just not talked about, in a strong witch's brew of denial, fear, and victim-blaming. The watershed moment for molestation was the TV movie with Ted Danson, Something About Amelia. The media -- much more homogeneous then -- chose to make it a moment of national discussion. Our local newspaper even published a lengthy, borderline pornographic article on a family undergoing counseling due to basically dual parental incest; the goal in those days was to "keep the family together" and even that would change. Still -- at this point, mid-Reagan era -- the spectre of same-sex molestation remained buried. We had opened up about these other issues, but gays were getting more militant due to the AIDS epidemic, and began to push back against the BSA as a civil rights issue. It was at this opportune moment (he said drily) that the Catholic church molestation issue suddenly blew wide open. Only after several years of dealing with that did we start to reach the new consensus on how to handle these things -- and we still had institutional failures such as Penn State where circling the wagons was the default response. The people running the football program, Paterno included, came from an era where this was all swept under the rug and treated as an embarrassing personal matter.

The past, sometimes, is indeed another country. On this topic, there has been a significant social evolution. If you weren't there, as many in this thread seem not to have been (which I'm not holding against you!), it's hard to imagine what those attitudes actually were and how they informed the practice.
posted by dhartung at 6:32 PM on September 16, 2012 [26 favorites]


I was Cub Scout leader for my son. One of those, walking around the back to school night, he walks up to the booth asks a question, next thing I know we are both signed up.

He is just a tad away from getting his Eagle Award now. I stayed with the program until he was in 7th grade, then we came to a mutual agreement that I was sorta crampin his style, and it would be a lot more fun if he could just hang with his friends. I was glad to be rid of the extra duty.

My son loves it. Spends a week a year up in Michigan jumping in a lake, made a bunch of new friends, and by way of community service, has painted a lot of crumbling school cafeterias and elderly women's porches.

There's two big things that creep me out about the whole experience.

First off. The guy who ran the group one year ahead of mine had no business being around kids. About 5'5, and just as wide. Looked like he could bench press a Volkswagen. Covered in prison tattoos, including "SKINHEAD" on his forearm. the spiderweb on the elbow thing that apparently means you killed a black person, swastikas, etc. And he's in charge of the second graders.

About the Youth Protection Training? Yeah...I went throught that. Jesus.

Saturday morning seminar. This guy comes out, about 40-50. Full Boy Scout uniform. Knee socks. Shorts, like ridiculous go-go dancer short shorts. Blouse, neckerchief, the whole thing.

And he launches into this...I don't even know what, about how you should never be alone with a Scout, because they might tell stories about you. How everybody thinks he's weird, because he doesnt have any kids of his own but he volunteers as a Scoutmaster. Seriously fuckin creepy guy. There was a videotape I don't even want to remember. I think I might have it in a box somewhere, that was suppopsed to be shown to like third graders and up with their parent's approval.

Long story short, it was basically how to recognize if some old perv is about to put the moves on you. I never showed it to my bunch, because it was just too fuckin weird for me.

That whole Youth Protection thing is kind of a joke. Pretty much every guideline starts with making sure the BSA can't be sued for anything, and that's it.

I wasn't expecting to come out of three hour seminar with a degree in Child Psychology, but I thought at some point someone might have said something to the effect that..

"Yeah if Johnny shows up to every meeting covered in bruises and hides under the cafeteria table in the fetal position, maybe you should tell somebody about that."

The feeling I came away with, was it was more about how to protect yourself from being charged, than actually protecting children.
posted by timsteil at 6:36 PM on September 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


The relevant Youth Protection Training is online, in case anyone wants to see what the current policies are.

I took this training last month as a new Tiger leader. The videos are the same ones I sat through as a camp counselor in the '90s.

I'm curious to see how much of this hidden abuse is recent. I read the LAT piece earlier today and it wasn't clear. For the entirety of my involvement it has been made very clear to me the the slightest hint of impropriety was to be reported to the police/social services. I want to believe the (newish?) "hard line" against abuse isn't a front and the BSA has truly turned over a new leaf on reporting molesters. It doesn't forgive the sins of past generations of leadership, and the keeping of a secret stash of documents is still an issue. But based on my experience as an adult inside the institution, I don't think this would happen today.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:39 PM on September 16, 2012


This is the kind of paranoid delusional thinking that leads to abuse being covered up - people are too damn obsessed with the image that they forget, completely, the underlying reality. A kid was in danger, two adults took steps to guarantee his safety - are you saying in an identical situation, he's now going to let a child get hurt to protect his image?

Well, to get a related, if different view of the situation, talk to just about any school teacher these days, male or female. A few I've spoken to are scared shitless of losing their jobs because an affectionate 6-year-old tries to hug them during an interaction.

I absolutely agree that the situation that was described was absolutely the best decision to be made at that time. But what if there hadn't been a 2nd adult in the tent at the time? There would be other solutions (call for another adult, etc) but they would probably all be more complicated or have poorer outcomes.

I'm not offering any answers or solutions, but I think it's unreasonable to call people's thinking "paranoid delusional" because they're worried that the appearance of a situation could dramatically affect their lives. I suppose I offer a new question: Is it possible to ensure that people feel confident that they can care for children in a way that's best for the child, without risking a witch-hunt?

Or am I building straw-men here?
posted by WaylandSmith at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I took this training last month as a new Tiger leader. .... based on my experience as an adult inside the institution, I don't think this would happen today.

Sorry but as a newly trained Tiger leader, you're not exactly "inside the institution." And even if the very least of what's happening today is that the BSA is scapegoating gay men and women while continuing to suppress a history of abuse against children, then that's reason enough to not sweep these revelations under the rug with "I want to believe ... the BSA has truly turned over a new leaf."
posted by headnsouth at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2012


Sorry but as a newly trained Tiger leader, you're not exactly "inside the institution." And even if the very least of what's happening today is that the BSA is scapegoating gay men and women while continuing to suppress a history of abuse against children, then that's reason enough to not sweep these revelations under the rug with "I want to believe ... the BSA has truly turned over a new leaf."

Look, I'm angry too. I haven't made any apologies, simply wondered whether what seems to me to be a decent youth protection policy (dating at least from the mid 90s) is having its effectiveness subverted behind the scenes.

But to your condescension, yes, I've been "inside the institution" on and off for my entire life. This is the first year as a parent. And as I've learned inside the institution, the policy against permitting gays is because those who run the national organization (read: LDS and a handful of other conservative niches) believe that homosexuals are bad moral role models, not because they present any additional youth protection issues. (The irony is sickening.) It's an equally wrong but very different argument than the one your are making on their behalf. They recognize that straight guys with wives and kids are the abusers in the vast majority of instances. And they seem to have lately discovered/employed methods to deal with that reality. Again, my question is whether it's been effective.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Countess Elena: This is making more of an impression on me than it should, perhaps, because my own high school doctor's child porn arrest was on the front page of Boston.com this week. I never knew him to act unprofessionally, nor did I hear rumors from the boys at the boarding school when I was there, but there we were, all of us, trusting him all that time.

Probably worth pointing out that simply having child porn, assuming that's what it was, is not a violation of anyone's trust. It doesn't mean he abused any children, and it doesn't mean he encouraged others to do so. It must be possible to get stuff like that without any interaction whatsoever with the creator of the porn in question, since pretty much everything else can be gotten that way. I've downloaded plenty of TV episodes, for instance, without any way for the creator to know I existed, or that the download happened, and while I don't know that's true for child porn, I suspect it must be.

I don't think mere possession of pictures, no matter what those pictures are, should be criminal in and of itself.

Hell, they've successfully prosecuted child porn cases for comic books, where no actual children were involved at all. That's criminalizing other people's fetishes, not other people's actual crimes.

Something like that could easily be happening to your high school doctor... and, again, porn on a computer, whether comic or otherwise, is a very different thing from actually abusing real kids. Having a fetish is not criminal, or at least it shouldn't be. Abusing children is criminal.

Oh, also: remember, this IS the Boston police, the people so idiotic that they arrested someone and charged them with setting a bomb for putting up a little flashing animated LED face or something. They're some of the most clueless and stupid cops in the country.
posted by Malor at 9:19 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Our time seems to be one of amazing levels of public and private corruption: Rome; Wall Street; DC; it never ends.

Optimistically, one hopes that the public and private corruption has existed at similar levels in most times and places, and the potential anomaly of our time is that it's widely noticed.

What I've found interesting is living in a world in which incredible power is concentrated in centralized organizations (as it always has been) even though my entire life has happened after the time (if it ever existed) when anyone awake would be surprised by the revelation of a specific instance of institutional corruption or misbehavior.
posted by kengraham at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2012


Our time seems to be one of amazing levels of public and private corruption: Rome; Wall Street; DC; it never ends.

My strong suspicion is that high levels of public and private corruption are historically the norm and we have less corruption today than the mean. The difference is that we sometimes actually find out about it now and when we do we care about it.

Graft used to be seen as a perk of many jobs.
posted by Justinian at 9:57 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


SteveLaudig: "Our time seems to be one of amazing levels of public and private corruption: Rome; Wall Street; DC; it never ends. Some crimes do merit execution for deterrent and prevention and justice reasons."

You could pull that line out at any time during the course of human history, and it would be no more or less true. It's just not a healthy or useful piece of rhetoric.

That said, we're talking about 1970 to 1991, so it's also not exactly "our time" either.

Also, I'm not 100% clear on the exact timeline, but AFAIK, the Mormons didn't begin to become heavily involved in the BSA until around this time, so they might actually have had some hand in cleaning things up. LDS fucked up a lot of things in scouting, but I'm going to charitably wager that this was probably not one of them.

I have a lot of shitty memories of scouts, but I do remember that every adult leader I dealt with was dead serious about following the guidelines that were designed to protect against pedophilia. I believe that these regulations were new at the time, and everybody assumed/knew they were created in response to a specific incident, given its seemingly rapid development and deployment (there was never any actual elaboration on what that incident was; some of us alternately assumed it was developed as a component of the organization's gay panic in the 1990s).

I guess we now know that "the incident" must have been that somebody with half a spine saw the blacklist, but lacked the other half necessary to mail a copy to the police.

I have no idea if my scoutmasters would have picked up the phone to call the police, but I'd like to believe that this would have been the case (although I can't say the same about some scouting personalities I knew outside of my troop). In any event, the guidelines specifically require that all scouting activities be structured so that an adult leader never has a one-on-one interaction with any scout. Prevention was the key focus. All scouts and leaders were instilled with the fact that it was grossly unacceptable for there ever to be less than two adults in a room with any number of scouts present.

Mind you, my troop was not religiously-affiliated, so the trust dynamic was admittedly probably quite different.

So, basically: This sucks, and the BSA should be burned to the ground if they really are as complicit as the LA Times are alleging. However, amidst the coverups, the organization does seem to have [slowly] taken steps to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again. Due to the organization's rotten leadership structure, secretive nature, and church ties, those steps haven't been 100% effective, but unlike the Catholic Church, I can say that they have definitely taken steps to proactively reduce and prevent these incidents.
posted by schmod at 10:01 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a fairly simply solution here - simply change the laws so anyone covering up for a child rapist is subject to exactly the same penalties. The first time some high up priest or BSA member got life plus 50 years, the rest of the scum would get the fear of God into them.

(Of course, there are already laws against this sort of thing - obstruction of justice, if nothing else. Why the authorities don't aggressively use this is beyond me, except that they have gotten into the habit of giving "institutions" a free pass for their crimes in general.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:04 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


nebulawindphone: "The Quaker meeting I attend has been having a really vicious argument over how stuff like this ought to be handled. It's not, thank goodness, about any actual incidents of child abuse. The question is just whether we ought to require background checks and how-to-report-abuse training for anyone who's working with kids in a Sunday-school-type capacity. But even that has led to some really ferocious upset feelings."

Print out a copy of The Onion article linked above, and give it to every Sunday School teacher. I'm dead serious about this.

You could add an addendum "After you call 911, also call [person in charge] directly so we know about it too" if that makes your organization feel better about things...
posted by schmod at 10:04 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a fairly simply solution here - simply change the laws so anyone covering up for a child rapist is subject to exactly the same penalties. The first time some high up priest or BSA member got life plus 50 years, the rest of the scum would get the fear of God into them.
Or just legally dismantle the BSA and imprison everyone involved in the cover up. I think we already have the legal tools for this.
posted by deathpanels at 10:49 PM on September 16, 2012


Sorry, but in my adult life, EVERY man I've met who had volunteered the information that he was an Eagle Scout was a total asshole. (oneswellfoop )

Maybe your anecdata are more about the company you keep than the recipients of the award. In my adult life, every man I've met who had volunteered the information that he was an Eagle Scout was an upright citizen, a college graduate, and usually well-rounded. Yes, there are jerks everywhere in life and the BSA is no exception, but I think you're stereotyping something that doesn't exist (at least to the extent that you claim). Or maybe you're just a disgruntled Life Scout. ;)

The parallels between the BSA and the Catholic church (I was a member of both as a child) are chilling. I thankfully never suffered abuse within either organization, but I knew people that did. As a result, I'm vehemently against either organization. I hope they rot. Quickly.

And for the record, oneswellfoop, yes, I was an Eagle scout. But I try really hard to not be an asshole, much less a total asshole.
posted by readyfreddy at 11:35 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, even without the sex abuse stuff, I always thought the scouts were a creepy/weird organization. The anti-gay and anti-atheism rhetoric, the focus on authority and hierarchy, the uniforms, the marching, the pseudo-military vibe of the whole thing. No way I'd want my kid to be a part of that.

Is there any organization for bringing kids out into nature and taking them on adventures and teaching them skills, without all the socially conservative BS?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:15 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, blame Baden-Powell for that. These days, Camp Fire and Girl Scouts of America are both committed to inclusiveness. (Camp Fire is co-ed, GSA is - obviously - for girls.) There wasn't any marching when I was a Girl Guide in Canada a thousand years ago, but there was a uniform. GSA has basically reduced the uniform requirement down as far as it can go, to try to minimize costs for families and troops, and what little military tone I remember (singing Taps to close meetings, and instructions for color guards in the Handbook, which we never actually did anything with in my company) are not in evidence on the GSA website.
posted by gingerest at 1:48 AM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Zero surprise.
posted by parmanparman at 1:53 AM on September 17, 2012


I guess we now know that "the incident" must have been that somebody with half a spine saw the blacklist, but lacked the other half necessary to mail a copy to the police.

Yeah, this is the problem. Putting in the new protection policies was a bold step forward, widely welcomed by the adult leadership and enthusiastically put into place. It's not perfect, but overall, it's been very effective.

Unfortunately, it now seems the other part of the reform was to cover up some very serious institutional crimes instead of acknowledging them. The time to say, "We had a policy of silence that favored adult leaders over children, but we've decided to put a stop to it with this comprehensive plan" was 1991. The BSA would have the lawsuits and the condemnation and culture wars, but come out of it far more righteous than it went in, and life would go on.

Now, after Pen State and the Catholic Church lawsuits, I don't see how they can survive.

And I would need to see some more evidence than simple hearsay that hypercorrection and witch-hunts are any kind of issue - most of the time, they're directed at the powerless (see: zero tolerance policies in schools) rather than those with any sort of authority.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:59 AM on September 17, 2012


Probably worth pointing out that simply having child porn, assuming that's what it was, is not a violation of anyone's trust.

Well, I'd like to think that children should be able to trust adults not to collect and whack off to pictures and videos of their traumatic abuse, but what do I know. Maybe the victims of that abuse are all fine and dandy with it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:05 AM on September 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Penn state alum, eagle scout and former catholic. I am the child rape common denominator
posted by MangyCarface at 6:13 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my adult life, every man I've met who had volunteered the information that he was an Eagle Scout was an upright citizen, a college graduate, and usually well-rounded.

I don't have a problem with Eagle Scouts, but well-rounded college graduates (and maybe even "upright citizens," depending on your definition of the term) can definitely still be assholes.
posted by naoko at 6:28 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


>> The Quaker meeting I attend has been having a really vicious argument over how stuff like this ought to be handled. It's not, thank goodness, about any actual incidents of child abuse. The question is just whether we ought to require background checks and how-to-report-abuse training for anyone who's working with kids in a Sunday-school-type capacity. But even that has led to some really ferocious upset feelings.

> Print out a copy of The Onion article linked above, and give it to every Sunday School teacher. I'm dead serious about this.

If only it was that simple! Here's the thing: nobody involved in that debate at my church sees themselves as in favor of covering up abuse. Everybody involved would say "Oh yes of course I'd call the police if anything actually happened!" It's just that some of them have managed to reconcile that position with the idea that they shouldn't take precautions ahead of time to make sure that any possible future abuser gets caught.

Or were you suggesting that the Onion article ought to BE the how-to-report-abuse training? If so, cute, but again it's not that simple. Yes, everyone already knows how to call the cops. The main point of holding that sort of training isn't to explain how to dial 9-1-1 (because, you know, DUH) but to get people to think of this as "something I might have to do someday" rather than "some fucked up shit that only happens in made-for-TV movies and I'll never actually have to deal with." Also, people who might have to report an abuser in their own community will want to know how the process works, what happens next, etc. People will often fail to report rapes or abuse based on fears like "Well, I didn't want anyone to get in trouble based on a SUSPICION I had," or "I didn't want them to find out it was me who made the accusation" and so it's important to remind people about the safeguards in place for reporters of abuse, about the fact that not all reports lead to arrests and trials, etc. etc.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:18 AM on September 17, 2012


nebulawindphone: "Or were you suggesting that the Onion article ought to BE the how-to-report-abuse training? If so, cute, but again it's not that simple. "

No, you're right. You should also include this.

But, really, I feel that that Onion article drives home the point way better than anything else I've seen, including prepared materials from professionals who do these things for a living...
posted by schmod at 8:00 AM on September 17, 2012


I don't have a problem with Eagle Scouts, but well-rounded college graduates (and maybe even "upright citizens," depending on your definition of the term) can definitely still be assholes.

Undoubtedly they can. By "upright citizens", I mean people that pay their taxes, don't get arrested, volunteer in their community, believe in the rule of law, know my history, etc… But don't be fooled that the BSA is/was strictly a jingoistic USA USA USA kind of organization. I learned my first lessons about world diplomacy, environmentalism, the great outdoors, and a host of other "lefty" lessons from the BSA as much as I did about flag worship, shooting firearms, or deference to a deity. Yes, I realize that it is more or less a junior version of the military in many ways (it was founded by a military man, after all). But I have a brain and could suss out my beliefs regardless of the "indoctrination". I think my BSA experience has served me quite well in my adult life, despite my complete misgivings and utter contempt once the veil of child abuse was lifted. (I would say that the same is true of the Catholic church.)

As for "assholes", I'd still rather know a well-rounded college educated asshole than an asshole that was none of these things. There's still hope for the former.
posted by readyfreddy at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I'm with Afroblanco, here. Injecting a little bit o' fascism into otherwise awesome activities for kids seems a little abusive all by itself, even if nobody in charge is a paedophile/enabler.

And no, I don't think it's an accident that there has been a string of these scandals centered around conservative, anti-gay organizations.

I wonder if any of the folks who were abused as Boy Scouts between 1970 and 1991 later earned their waterboarding merit badges in the military.
posted by kengraham at 8:54 AM on September 17, 2012


In Maine, certain people are required by law to report the suspicion or knowledge of child abuse. This includes: Child care workers, educators, medical & hospital staff, anyone working with children on behalf of the state(social workers, etc.), and probably more. On googling, there are such laws in 48 states and Puerto Rico. The BSA is aware that they are assuming responsibility for the safety of the children involved in their program. For them to refuse to report suspected and/or known abuse so consistently should be criminal. At the very least, they are guilty of systematic child endangerment. To endanger children on such a large scale, and to do so in an organized manner sounds like organized crime. This is reprehensible. I can't out onto the page the vehemence with which I label this appalling policy. (needs smoke_pouring_from_nostrils_in_anger tag)
posted by theora55 at 10:30 AM on September 17, 2012


FWIW, Malcolm Gladwell's timely piece in the New Yorker, IN PLAIN VIEW: How child molesters get away with it, about Penn State but relevant here.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:46 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


2N2222, when I first looked at that article, the cartoon that accompanied it was this, the caption of which seemed inappropriate at best. When I refreshed the article a different cartoon came up; so apparently they come up at random.

"Christ, what an asshole" really would have fit here.
posted by dhens at 12:22 PM on September 17, 2012


If you think "the great outdoors" is some kind of a lefty marker, you may need to get out more.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:55 PM on September 17, 2012


Malor Hell, they've successfully prosecuted child porn cases for comic books, where no actual children were involved at all. That's criminalizing other people's fetishes, not other people's actual crimes.

Wrong. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition 535 U.S. 234 (2002).

Something like that could easily be happening to your high school doctor


Wrong. Richard Keller, M.D., 56, former medical director of Phillips Academy in Andover and a Boston Children’s Hospital endocrinologist, was arrested Thursday at his Andover home, where prosecutors said they found at least 60 DVDs and 500 sexually explicit photographs of minors. . .authorities searched Keller’s home and worked to determine whether photographs found there were created by him or by a third party

Oh, also: remember, this IS the Boston police, the people so idiotic. . .


Wrong. The two-year long investigation that culminated in an arrest was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Andover Police Department and the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
posted by mlis at 5:39 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Girl Scouts also have very strict regulations about being alone with campers/younger scouts, buddy systems, etc. I can't recall all the specifics from my camp days, but there was a lot of emphasis on avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Lifelong Girl Scout, trained adult scout volunteer here. I am actually forbidden by the bylaws of our council to have my husband accompany me as a volunteer on any scouting activity unless there is a third, unrelated adult along with us too. That rule is written in language that makes it clear that any partnered couple -- m/m, m/f or f/f -- needs a third if they're going to be involved.

The reasoning, as it was explained to me, was that this way, there were minimal chances of one spouse covering for another in the event of "things that are not in the girls' best interests."

It is occasionally a PITA -- especially since the other person I frequently volunteer with is my sister-in-law, and so she and I can't volunteer together if her brother/my husband is with us.

And it seems to be a new rule; it certainly wasn't in effect when I was a Girl Scout, nor was anything like it in effect when my parents ran my brother's Boy Scout troop. But I can appreciate why it's there. The Girl Scouts tend to be very thorough when they make sweeping policy declamations.
posted by sobell at 10:22 PM on September 17, 2012


mlis: "Wrong. Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition 535 U.S. 234 (2002). "

And then came the PROTECT Act of 2003 which was used to prosecute Christopher Handley, I agree that wasn't what happened in the Boston case but Malor was not wrong about the law.
posted by the_artificer at 1:10 AM on September 18, 2012


I was in a scout troop in the 1970's that was led by a molester; I left when his behavior went from overaffectionate and creepy to obviously inapproriate; talking with other members of the troop it was clear that he pushed boundaries with a number of boys in the troop. Reading the Gladwell article linked above, it is very clear that he was engaging in the sort of grooming behavior described, getting in good with both boys and their parents. Apparently his behavior came to light some time later but it was all kept very quiet and as far as I know law enforcement never got involved. Some years later there was an article about him in the local paper. It seems he was wheelchair bound due to a freak event but was apparently recruiting older teenaged boys to help him on some sort of treasure hunting expedition. Very disturbing to anyone who knew his history.

These stories about scouting come to light from time to time; I remember seeing this book in the 1990's (and according to the linked page there were associated newspaper articles) but for whatever reason the stories never seem to gain any traction. I wonder if in this day and age, with the internet as well as a number of other, similar scandals fresh in everyone's minds it might be different.
posted by TedW at 8:56 AM on September 18, 2012


I wish I'd read this before I sent my Eagle badges back last week, just so I could have told the Chief Scout Executive that, in addition to being a bully, a bigot, and a coward, he was a hypocrite, too.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Boy Scouts Promise to Report the Pedophiles They Didn't
posted by homunculus at 3:17 PM on October 1, 2012


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