Thursday, February 7, 2013

There May Be A More Important Decision for The Boy Scouts

by Gary Snyder

A delayed board decision by the Boy Scouts of America to drop its national ban on gay leaders and scouts, from my perspective, may be its least important decision.

This is an update on an article that I wrote:

Inappropriate behavior in the junior police program, Explorers, is not that rare. It mirrors the behavior of its parent organization, Boy Scouts of America. Both organizations’ conduct adds up to a shameful expose of poor self-regulation.

An Associated Press examination of news accounts since the Explorers was spun off from the Boy Scouts found at least 97 cases involving police officers accused of sexual assault on minor girls, and sometimes boys, in the program. Even though the numbers seem strikingly high, the numbers only reflect a fraction of all incidents because most never become public because a youth is unlikely to report it….and even if fellow officers are aware of it, they are reluctant to do anything about it.
The Explorer program is run by Learning for Life, a subsidiary of Boy Scouts of America. The organization pairs young people 14 to 21 with police mentors who take them on ride-alongs, teach them to write reports and direct traffic in the hope that they will be inspired to pursue law enforcement careers. It has nearly 2,000 law-enforcement Explorer posts and upward of 32,000 participating in the Boy Scouts–affiliated program each year.
Here are a few recently disgusting examples:
In one case, a deputy San Bernardino (CA) Sheriff’s deputy was charged with having sexual intercourse with a sixteen year old. Explorer. In another, a Victorville (CA) deputy plead guilty to two counts of oral copulation with a 17-year old Explorer. In Arizona, a Nogales police officer was sentenced to prison for having sex with a sixteen-year-old Explorer. A former Burlington (NC) police officer pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl enrolled in the Burlington police Explorer program. Even with previously known suspicions, the police department Brownwood, Texas continued to let a 53-year-old sergeant run its Explorer program and he was charged with abusing a 15 year old that resulted in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, naming the Texas Rangers, the local prosecutor and the Brown County Sheriff's Office as defendants.
The Explorer cases continue on and on.
A similar situation presents itself at the Boy Scouts.
A jury ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a man sexually abused by a former assistant Scoutmaster in what is believed to be the largest such award against the national organization. The jury awarded the Oregon man $1.4 million in compensatory damages. In testimony, a Boy Scouts of America executive told a jury that a prevention program was developed in the 1980s, but seldom used. The jury said the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing the former assistant Scoutmaster to associate with Scouts after the scoutmaster admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.
The Scouts never required criminal background checks on all applicants to be Scout leaders. A sex abuse prevention program was put into place decades ago, but had never been evaluated or analyzed to determine its effectiveness.
In 2011, testimony uncovered there were the so-called red-flag files that the Boy Scouts of America have fought to keep out of the public eye. Fourteen other clients are suing the Boy Scouts for sexual abuse; two of those men are alleged victims of Timur Dykes, a convicted pedophile and assistant Scoutmaster.
Earlier this year a jury faulted the Scouts for failing to protect the young boys from abuse. Six men, who were molested by the Scout leader, as children, have settled their cases with the Boy Scouts of America. The settlement prevents the attorneys and the men from talking about how much money each received in compensation for abuse that happened in the 1980s. The amount, however, likely reaches into the multiple millions of dollars, considering the Boy Scouts of America also have agreed to pay the state $2.25 million in punitive damages as part of the settlement. The men, who are now in their 30s or early 40s, were all members of the same Southeast Portland troop.
Apparently there was repeated evidence of abuse by Scout leaders in more than 1,000 files compiled on suspected molesters among adult volunteers from 1965-85 and introduced as evidence in a case. Why didn’t they know? Recently in testimony they said ‘they never looked in the files’. The case was the first of six filed against the Boy Scouts in the same court in Oregon. Because the Boy Scouts have settled some lawsuits out of court, it is difficult to say where the total awards imposed by the Portland jury rank with those of the past.
In a 1987 sex abuse case, an Oregon jury awarded more than $4 million to the victim, including $2 million in punitive damages against the Scouts that were thrown out when the case was appealed. A jury in San Bernardino, Calif., awarded $3.75 million to three sex abuse victims in 1991. From 1984 through 1992, the Scouts were sued at least 60 times for alleged sex abuse with settlements and judgments totaling more than $16 million. (2010)
This has been its biggest challenge. There are others.
It is battling a perception that it bars gay people and atheists, not to mention girls under 13.  There is little connection to minority communities.  The organization, long an icon of wholesomeness in a simpler America, has seen its membership plunge by 42% since its peak of 1972, when there were 4.8 million scouts. In the last decade alone, membership has dropped by more than 16% to 2.8 million.
Self-regulation in this case did not work. If it does not work with police officers that are entrusted with teens and Boy Scouts, why would we think it would work for the charitable sector, the securities industry, the mining industry and many others that have failed miserably to monitor to minimal standards of deportment.

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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