By Kirk Johnson (New York Times)
September 25, 2012
The Boy Scouts of America, facing what could be an avalanche of unfavorable attention in coming weeks from the court-ordered release of internal files about inappropriate sexual behavior by youth leaders, issued a report on Tuesday by a professor who reviewed the files and found what she called “a good faith effort” to protect boys from harm.
The group’s senior leadership team also issued “an open letter to the scouting community” that included an apology for past wrongs, but also a strong assertion that decades of efforts to internally document deviant behavior within the Scouts — to purge bad leaders — had worked.
“Where those involved in scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies and sympathies,” the letter said.
The Oregon Supreme Court ordered in June that thousands of pages of so-called “perversion files” be opened to public inspection, as part of an abuse case by a former Scout leader in Portland. The release was delayed by a court motion from the Boy Scouts requesting redaction of certain information, including the names of victims. One of the lawyers in the Portland case, Paul Mones, said the files would be available online when the redactions were completed.
The review of the files was conducted by Janet Warren, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. She said in a statement that part of what emerged from her analysis was that there was no single pattern and that the stereotypical “profile” of a child sex offender was elusive.
“In reviewing the entirety of these files, I was struck by the wide range of individuals,” she wrote.
Professor Warren, who had also testified on the Boy Scouts’ behalf in the Portland case, said that in the context of scouting’s huge numbers, the relatively small number of volunteers — about 2 per 100,000 or 0.002 percent — who came to the attention of the organization in one year she looked at, 1980, suggested that youth were safer in the Boy Scouts than in society at large.