Boy Scout Director: One Case of Abuse is Too Many
Patch has counted 205 Missouri cases in the so-called Boy Scout "perversion files" gathered by the Los Angeles Times. The Greater St. Louis Boy Council wants parents to know it’s working to prevent abuse within its ranks.
In 2010, the Boy Scouts of America were found liable for the molestation of a 12-year-old Oregon Boy Scout in the 1980s. During the case, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the BSA to release several decades of its confidential "ineligible volunteer files" as evidence. The Associated Press, the New York Times and several other media outlets demanded that the files become public record.
On October 18, those records, since dubbed the “perversion files,” were posted with permission of the court by the plaintiff’s attorney. The Los Angeles Times released another batch of records they collected from both the Oregon case and a similar 1992 California lawsuit. Media outlets across the country, including Patch, have been combing through the database in search of local abuse cases.
A local director in the Boy Scout organization insists they're doing everything they can to prevent abusers from harming children who become Scouts.
“Even one case of abuse is one too many, and Scouting will continually focus on providing the safest environment possible for children,” said Joe Mueller, a Fenton resident and public relations director for the Greater St. Louis Boy Scout Council.
Mueller, who has two sons active in Scouting, can understand a parent’s concern about child abuse. As the council’s spokesperson, Mueller is tasked with explaining how the BSA is working to protect children.
He told Patch the Boy Scouts have been constantly improving the method to protect children over the last 20 years.
“The files were only one component of our youth protection program. We conduct criminal background checks, comprehensive training programs for adults and children, and mandatory reporting to law enforcement of any abuse or suspected abuse," he said.
Our safety policies include a rule of four—no Scouting activity can take place without two adults and two youth members. There’s no one-on-one contact or counseling outside the view of other parents and adults. This even includes e-mail communication—messages must be copied to other adults.”
Mueller told Patch he had sifted though the files released by the Oregon Supreme Court, which covered records from 1959 to 1985. He found 20 volunteers from the St. Louis council who had been dismissed from Scouting. He said he found about 40 entries—some overlapping—from the St. Louis area in the L.A. Times database.
St. Louis has one of the largest councils in the country and currently covers 27 counties in Missouri and 10 in southern Illinois. From 1959 to 1985, the St. Louis council had around 300,000 volunteers, Mueller said.
“Our council did not have any knowledge of how many files there were or what was in the files,” he said. That's because the original files are kept at the Boy Scout national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
“The files are lists of people who don’t meet our leadership standards because of known or suspected abuse or other inappropriate conduct either inside or outside of Scouting,” he said.
A recent newsletter sent to Scout parents and volunteers via email expressed the St. Louis council’s concern over child abuse in its ranks.
The safety of all children is paramount to the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. During the last three decades, we strengthened and enhanced the programs and policies that protect children.
We believe any occurrence of abuse is unacceptable. We regret there have been times when the BSA's best efforts to protect children were insufficient. For that we are deeply sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims. We are committed to helping those who suffered abuse and assisting them through a variety of means.
For more information on how the Greater St. Louis Boy Council is working to protect children from abuse, see their Frequently Asked Questions on Ineligible Volunteer Files.