OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Thousands of Boy Scout troop leaders are accused of sexual abuse.
The allegations, revealed Tuesday by a pair of law firms on the East Coast, date back decades and have Bay Area ties.
There are reportedly more than 12 thousand victims, some of whom lived in the Bay Area.
More than 7,800 leaders and masters with the Boy Scouts of America nationwide, were accused of sexually abusing children between the years 1947 and 2005.
Their names and alleged crimes were kept secret for decades under what the Boy scouts called “perversion files” according to attorneys from two law firms in New York and New Jersey. The information was revealed in a news conference Tuesday.
"They have removed thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse over the years, and they've kept that in files secretly," said
"Which allowed these people to then go on and coach soccer teams. Allow them to go on and be teachers."
Attorneys admit they’re unsure how many of the accused are still alive, where they are now and if they’re still involved with youth after leaving the boy scouts.
A law firm in Oregon released a list of names, with more than two dozen scout leaders from the Bay Area accused of sexual abuse.
There are at least 18 cities, including Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Hayward, concord, Vallejo, Sunnyvale and Santa Rosa.
“I’m not surprised but in today’s scouting it’s a lot different,” said David Kling, assistant scout master in Clayton.
Kling, once a Boy Scout himself, is now an assistant scout master in Clayton and raised two Eagle scouts.
“My boys would not be where they are today without scouting,” he said.
Kling says he’s heard stories of sexual abuse before but defends the organization.
“For adult leaders you have to get finger printed now, background checks so they’re doing the most to try to get the leaders that they need. They do extensive leadership training,” said Kling.
The Boy Scouts of America released this statement:
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. All of these individuals were removed from Scouting and reported to law enforcement.”
As far as Tuesday’s allegations the firms on the East Coast plan to file suit against the Boy Scouts and are asking victims to come forward.
Read the full statement here:
We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.
Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920s, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations.
At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement.
Regarding the volunteer database specifically:
First - to be clear, every instance of suspected abuse is reported to law enforcement.
Additionally, all of the names on the “Anderson List” are publicly available; all of these individuals were removed from Scouting and reported to law enforcement.
The database system is one of the approaches most often recommended by experts to keep kids safe and is a collection of information on individuals who, due to past inappropriate behavior or suspicion of inappropriate behavior, are prohibited from participating in BSA programs. It is an ongoing tool the BSA uses to keep youth safe from potential perpetrators.
Every instance of suspected abuse is reported to law enforcement. The organization went back decades and reported to instances of abuse to law enforcement when it may have been unclear whether prior incidences had been reported.
Here are additional relevant facts regarding the VSD:
- Individuals are added to our Volunteer Screening Database (VSD) based on violations of our policies, or suspected violations of our policies. They don’t need to have been convicted to be added to the VSD. We have a very low threshold for removing someone from our scouting programs. Again – this is because our priority is to protect kids, first and foremost, above all else.
- When an individual is added to the VSD, they are removed entirely from any Scouting program. They are removed entirely and prohibited from re-joining anywhere.
- To reiterate, every instance of suspected abuse is reported to law enforcement.
The VSD is a mechanism for keeping kids safe within Scouting. We believe victims and routinely remove individuals based on only allegations of inappropriate behavior. Once the individual has been removed from Scouting and has been reported to law enforcement, the BSA has no other avenue for further investigation or public disclosure.