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A new report claims that more than 7,800 Boy Scout troop leaders and volunteers sexually assaulted over 12,000 victims during the past seven decades, increasing calls for the organization to provide transparency and documents commonly referred to as the “perversion files”.
The figures come from a deposition conducted earlier this year, as part of a child sex abuse case involving the Minnesota Children’s Theatre Company. The testimony of Dr. Janet Warren (PDF), a University of Virginia professor, indicated that she has been evaluating Boy Scouts of America’s handling of sexual abuse cases and indicated that between 1944 and 2016, there were 7,819 perpetrators who were either troop leaders or volunteers, believed to have abused at least 12,254 victims.
Much of that data appears to come from internal files kept by the Boy Scouts since the 1920s, known as the “perversion files,” according to allegations raised by attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm released a list (PDF) of individuals who live in New York and worked with the Boy Scouts, who are now facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
The list includes about 150 individuals, their city, and the troop unit number they worked with, if known.
“Since the 1920’s, the Boy Scouts of America has maintained an internal filing system of scout leaders accused of misconduct, including sexual abuse. The ‘Ineligible Volunteer Files’ or ‘IV Files’ constitute five categories, including sexual misconduct, also known as ‘perversion files’,” the report states. “The files are created for individuals whose registration with the Boy Scouts has been revoked because of allegations of child sexual abuse. The ‘perversion’ files illustrate the Boy Scouts of America’s longstanding knowledge of child sexual abuse in scouting.”
In her testimony, Warren noted it has taken five years to go through all of the files of Boy Scout sexual abuse problems, and has involved the use of 32 coders. She indicated that, before the advent of computers, the Boy Scouts had 17 people in a room checking the name of every person who would register with the organization against the names in its perversion files, in an effort to keep known perpetrators out.
The Boy Scouts confirmed the existence of the files, indicating that they were used to ensure the group never knowingly allowed a sexual predator access to youths in its organization.
The number of incidents, perpetrators and victims is much higher than previously believed. Reports in 2012 indicated only about 1,247 scout leaders were suspected of abuse, while another report that same year suggested about 5,000 individuals had been expelled from the Boy Scouts due to abuse concerns.