The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Talkers

December 2, 2012

Boy Scouts resisted background checks on leaders

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From 1985 to 1991 — when the detailed files obtained by The Times end — the Boy Scouts admitted more than 230 men with previous arrests or convictions for sex crimes against children, the analysis found.

The men were accused of molesting nearly 400 boys while in Scouting. They accounted for one in six of those expelled for alleged abuse during those years.

Scouting officials declined to be interviewed but said in a prepared statement that they have enhanced their policies over the years and tried “to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention.”

The Scouts’ past handling of child sexual abuse has come under increased scrutiny since October, after the court-ordered release of hundreds of confidential files dating back decades. The Times earlier obtained and analyzed a larger and more recent set of files — about 1,900 dossiers opened from 1970 to 1991.

The records, called the “perversion files” by Scouting officials, have been a key tool for nearly a century, intended to keep out men expelled for alleged abuse.

The files also offer a detailed record of the system’s failures. The Times reported in August that from 1970 to 1991 dozens of men previously expelled had slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again. The Times later reported that Scouting officials failed to report hundreds of alleged abusers to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.

The organization has fought in court to prevent the release of more recent files, making it impossible to determine how many men with criminal histories were caught in the organization after 1991.

Court records and news accounts, however, show that convicted molesters continued to find new victims in Scouting.

Edgardo Luis Ortiz became an assistant scoutmaster in Providence, R.I., in the fall of 1997 — less than two years after completing a prison term for sex crimes.

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