Kids, Plaintiffs Firms, Sex, Sex Scandals

Scouts Dishonor

I’m not a mathematician, but I am a diligent consumer of news. And based on a casual scan of recent headlines and stories that have dominated multiple news cycles, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that every child in America is getting, or has gotten, raped. From a Catholic church that has exhausted anyone’s ability to be surprised to a football program arrogant enough to talk of a Grand Experiment, the institutions that have been sullied by serial child rape have also been ones that were previously thought of as bastions of strong moral fiber.

And to this Hall of Shame, we can now add the Boy Scouts of America. This Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published an exposé suggesting the Scouts should Be Prepared to get sued for all they’re worth. It could be a real Jamboree for plaintiffs attorneys.

After the jump, see if I can pull off the ridiculously difficult Pinewood Derby reference.

The L.A. Times story shows an organization that has, for at least two decades, been wildly negligent in their duty to protect children from molestation. The evidence of this malfeasance was found by the Times in something called the “perversion files,” a blacklist allegedly kept by the Scouts of, well, perverts previously in their employ. It is this file that lawyers for the Scouts are trying like hell to keep private. Trying.

The numbers are something to behold:

In the majority of cases, the Scouts learned of alleged abuse after it had been reported to authorities. But in more than 500 instances, the Scouts learned about it from boys, parents, staff members or anonymous tips.

In about 400 of those cases — 80% — there is no record of Scouting officials reporting the allegations to police. In more than 100 of the cases, officials actively sought to conceal the alleged abuse or allowed the suspects to hide it, The Times found.

Again, I’m no mathematician. But plugging these numbers into my TI-84 graphing calculator tells me that the Scouts are disgusting and shameful.

Now, the mere incidence of child molestation is what tends to raise the hackles. But this shouldn’t be the takeaway here. After all, the Scouts are what NAMBLA would term a “target-rich environment.” No, the real shame is that, if the allegations in the Times piece are true, the Scouts covered up the awfulness. Swept it under the rug and wished like hell that it would go away. And it didn’t. And it never would have, for God’s sake. And because they obfuscated and ignored, they increased the likelihood that molestation would occur. When you find an illegally weighty plug in a Pinewood Derby car, you have no choice but to turn the racer into the relevant authorities. The same holds true for child molesters.

It seems almost too pat to bring up the Catholic church here. Is it too obvious to point out that we have two large bureaucracies that both espouse rather retrograde views on homosexuality? It may be too simple a connection. The two organizations certainly don’t seem to understand human sexuality any better than a small child. Oh, and there’s also this:

At a Rhode Island Boy Scout camp in 1971, a scoutmaster discovered a 12-year-old boy performing oral sex on an assistant troop leader, William Lazzareschi, behind a tent.

“Mr. Lazzareschi made me do it to him,” the young Scout told officials, according to the file.

Lazzareschi “admitted his role in the act” and said he’d never done it before, the file states. He was expelled from Scouting and told to stay away from the boy. Nothing in the file indicates the Scouts called police.

The records do show that the boy was counseled “with positive results” by the Rev. Edmond C. Micarelli, the camp’s Catholic chaplain.

“Upon Father Micarelli’s recommendation, the parents were not notified,” a report states.

Micarelli’s reasoning was not explained. But in 1990, he also wound up on the blacklist after a man told a Scouting official that the priest had raped him and his younger brother as boys. In 2002, the Diocese of Providence paid $13.5 million to 36 victims who sued Micarelli and 10 other priests, alleging sex abuse dating to at least 1975.

Now before you go accusing me of horrible bias, do know that I was raised in the Catholic church and I spent several years in Cub Scouts. I also have several black friends. I know that doesn’t apply here, but I may want to call that chip in later.

And just like the Catholic church, the Scouts now enter a new reality dominated by lawsuits and repressed memories. The Times piece outlines how attorneys for the Scouts are attempting to diminish the oncoming avalanche of litigation through evidence suppression. But it appears to be too little, too late:

The Boy Scouts’ lawyers have long contended that keeping such files confidential is key to protecting the privacy of victims, of those who report sexual abuse and of anyone falsely accused. But over the years, hundreds of the files have been admitted into evidence — usually under seal — in lawsuits brought by alleged victims. The Times reviewed 1,600 of the nearly 1,900 files that came to light as a result of a 1992 court case.

Hundreds more will soon become widely available. In June, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of 1,247 of the Scouts’ confidential files covering two decades beginning in 1965. The files were submitted in a 2010 lawsuit that resulted in a nearly $20-million judgment against the Scouts.

The release of the files, many of which were included in The Times’ review, raises the prospect of a costly wave of litigation for the Boy Scouts. In many states, however, statutes of limitation will curb victims’ ability to sue.

Penn State probably thought the letter of the NCAA law protected it as well. But these things tend to take on an extralegal life of their own. And so another apple pie institution finds itself in a place where guilt can only be minimized and where the self-important mission of their founders is revealed to be a sham.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys will likely pick the carcass of the Scouts’ image clean. And when they do, the dominant image left remaining of the Scouts will likely be a familiar one. In closing, I offer this image into evidence as Plaintiff’s Exhibit A and ask that the court so admit it.

Boy Scouts helped alleged molesters cover tracks, files show [Los Angeles Times]

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