Boy Scouts’ Own Expert Estimates 12,254 Boy Sexually Abused in Scouting: More Likely Over 100,000

The Boy Scouts’ own files on child molesters are in the news again. An expert witness hired by the Boy Scouts of America calculated that 12,254 boys were abused in Scouting programs. The abusers were 7,819 troop leaders and other Scout volunteers, all documented in BSA’s “Ineligible Volunteer” files.

These are files BSA kept since at least 1920 on volunteers or paid employees kicked out of Scouting for a variety of reasons. For decades, BSA categorized files involving accusations of child sexual abuse as “Perversion” files.

These figures came to light when Dr. Janet Warren testified in a different child sex abuse trial recently. Warren is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia’s medical school. Warren testified that she has been “on private contract” with the Boy Scouts of America for the past five years, evaluating how BSA handled accusations of sexual abuse within the organization from 1944 through 2016.

Warren’s testimony made the news, but came as no surprise to those of us fighting sex abuse cases against the Boy Scouts. Warren has ben a hired expert for BSA in many of our cases, always offering the same opinion – essentially that only a very small percentage of adult Scout volunteers abused a very small percentage of boys in Scouting.

Of course, that argument misses the point. Boy Scouts of America had a duty to protect the children in its program from the known danger of predatory abusers, even if those predators were a small percentage of the total number of volunteers.

Warren is also, sadly, wrong in her estimate of the number of children abused in Scouting. We know from the reports she prepared in our cases that she has never actually counted the number of victims identified in the files she reviewed. (Some of the IV Files describe perpetrators who have 12, or 20, or more victims.) Instead, she simply estimates that each abuser had two victims.

The reason she estimates 12,254 victims when there are 7,819 files is because she does not count files involving abuse of non-Scouts. That is, she removes from consideration IV Files on men accused of abusing girls, or men accused of abusing children not in Scouting, like a student if the man is a teacher as well as a Scoutmaster. There are also some older “Perversion” files where men were kicked out for sexual activity with adult men. Warren does not include those in her calculations.

Studies show that it is more likely that each child molester documented in the IV Files had an average of 10 victims. And, for many reasons, the number of existing IV Files does not come close to reflecting the number of child molesters in Scouting. Which is why Warren is so sadly off in her estimate. It is much more likely that there have been well over 100,000 victims of child sexual abuse in Boy Scouts.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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