PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The release of hundreds of documents related to alleged sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts program decades ago reveals a number of cases centered in the local viewing area.
Boy Scouts officials say those cases serve as teaching moments for policies that have evolved over time.
In a 1972 letter from an Erie scout executive referring to a scoutmaster who was accused of abuse, and later resurfaced in another troop, the executive wanted to drop the matter since the leader was seeking professional help.
“If it don’t stink, don’t stir it,” wrote the executive.
The purpose of the files was to keep suspected sex offenders out of scouting. In some cases, there was court action.
The documents reveal a case from 1960 in which a scout leader from Pittsburgh’s Friendship neighborhood paid a $50 fine in morals court and was removed from the scout rolls.
In a 1968 case involving a scout volunteer from Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a teenager reported the man performed what he thought was a medical examination on him.
“He asked me to take off my pants,” the teen said.
There is no indication that the case was reported to authorities, although the volunteer was removed from scouting.
In some cases, like a 1970 incident involving a volunteer from Mt. Washington, executives reported they did not have anything in writing, therefore they did not report the incident.
In one other local case, leaders talked about getting a judge to convince a suspected offender to shape up and implied the threat of news media exposure.
The release of these old records reinforce the reforms in place now, say Boy Scout officials.
National database criminal checks are automatic, and reporting suspected abuse is supposed to be guided by new standards.
Boys Scouts national Chief Scout executive Wayne Brock says, “scouting’s mandatory reporting policy requires members to report even suspicions of abuse directly to local law enforcement. Anyone suspected of inappropriate behavior will be immediately removed from scouting.”
The Boy Scouts national organization says today every Boy Scout and Cub Scout handbook includes information to help parents show their kids how to recognize resist and report abuse.