Boy Scouts Sex Abuse Scandal...Churches Beware

Attorneys recently released more than 20,000 Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.

Boy Scouts admitted, "There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong."

What can you do as a church to ensure that this doesn't happen in your ministry?

Have a thorough screening process for new volunteers which includes an application, personal interview, background check, and reference calls.

The files show that the expelled Scout leaders and volunteers -- all men -- "are sociopathic geniuses," Clark said.  "They fool everybody," he said. "And then they are able to coerce, convince or threaten these kids to stay silent. And you see that play out over and over again in the files."

NEVER allow anyone who has abused a child to serve in your children's ministry.
In one file from 1982, an official at an Indiana branch asked to have a volunteer leader placed in a "confidential file" because parents accused him of molesting two boys on a camping trip.

The leader, a Scout adviser, had previously been on the ineligible list in the early 1970s for the same charges, but he was removed from the list after his psychologist and pastor intervened and declared him "cured," the file said.

There were "a small number of files where an alleged offender was allowed back into Scouting after offending," often after psychiatric treatment, "those cases were extraordinarily rare," wrote Warren, who was an expert witness for the Boy Scouts during the court case.

One Scout leader was removed,  but was allowed to stay on as a volunteer and the abuse continued. In 1983, the assistant Scoutmaster told troop leaders he abused 17 Scouts, according to plaintiff's attorneys.

Do not allow men to serve in your children's ministry if they were sexually abused as a child.  The risk that they will also abuse is too high. 

Tim Kosnoff, an attorney in Seattle, said the abuse allegedly inflicted on the men as boys "has a corrosive effect" in which trust, relationship and sexuality issues develop with adulthood.

NEVER allow a volunteer to be alone with a child.  There must always be at least two volunteers present at all times.

Be careful about allowing outside groups to use your church facilities for events and programs.  If you do, make sure they are following your safety and security policies and procedures.

Remember you are a mandatory reporter of abuse.

Two-thirds of those files have involved "local law enforcement already," and the group enacted a mandatory policy in 2011 requiring all members to tell police of possible abuse child abuse or use of child pornography, the Boy Scouts said.

But the attorneys representing victims in several lawsuits against the Scouts say the group hid evidence from the public and police and that the so-called perversion files offer insight into what they deem a serious problem in the organization.

The secrecy protected more than 1,000 suspected child molesters, said the attorneys, who publicly released the documents during a news conference at a hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Churches...let this be a reminder!  The safety and security of children must be a top priority.