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Boy Scouts denies shielding sex abusers in 'perversion files'

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Boy Scouts denies shielding sex abusers in 'perversion files'
The organization said its list of ineligible leaders is intended to keep out potential abusers. Photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

April 25 (UPI) -- Responding to new accusations involving the sexual abuse of children, the Boy Scouts of America has said it never shielded the names of any abusers who've been involved with the organization.

The BSA told reporters Wednesday a list of "ineligible volunteer files" has been kept since the 1920s and keeps "potential predators from joining our organization."

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"We do not keep any reports of suspected abuse secret from the authorities," Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said. "They don't need to be arrested or convicted of a crime to be added to our database."

The database of names has been called by some a "perversion file."

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The response came one day after a victim's rights attorney said the historic organization had a list of 7,800 leaders who abused boys over the decades and refused to make it public. Attorney Jeff Anderson cited testimony from University of Virginia professor Janet Warren, who testified in an unrelated case in January that the organization had compiled a list of 12,200 abused children.

The group said it cares deeply about all abuse victims and apologized to any who were hurt during their time as scouts.

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"We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children," Surbaugh said in a statement. "We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting."

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In 2018, there were five known victims of sexual abuse in BSA, but Surbaugh said one incident is one too many. The list of suspected abusers includes those who were never charged or convicted. All are banned forever from the program.

"All instances of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement," Surbaugh said. "We do not keep any reports of suspected abuse secret or hidden from the proper authorities."

Anderson is pushing for the list to be made public.

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BSA Chief Strategy Officer Erin Eisner said while every name has been turned over to police, they can't all be made public because some were never charged with a crime.

"There are issues of privacy and due process," Eisner said. "Our database has served to keep children safe over the years."

Warren said the scouting system has "been in place for over a hundred years and it's worked very well."

BSA has been sued by former scouts over claims of past abuse, which prompted the organization to consider Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. When asked about that possibility, Surbaugh said, "We have made no decision."

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