Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has helped shape the lives of 130 million youth with help from 35 million adult volunteers. But now in the throes of bankruptcy, the organization's history of sexual abuse allegations is being forced into the public limelight.
More than 95,000 people have filed sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts organization, and at least a dozen leaders have been convicted or charged with crimes, according to an expose on Sharyl Attkisson's show, Full Measure After Hours.
Attkisson spoke with a former Boy Scout about the scarring experience he alleged happened to him.
Philip Clark was 12 years old in the 1970s when he joined the Boy Scouts in Bossier City, La..
"Yeah, school offered it, friends were in it," Clark said. "My mom was single, three boys and things of that nature. I wanted to kind of be a man and this offered that."
Clark was soon among the boys who were handpicked to report alone to a scout leader's tent on a campout.
"Well then, you got to take off your shirt so he can put the badge on it. That's how it starts, right?," Clark asked as he described the sexual assault he endured.
Clark said the episode impacted "everything in my daily life, yeah. From intimacy, from trust, communication … Withdrawn from school, withdrawn from friends. Something was stolen from me."
Attorney Steve Babin represents Clark along with thousands of other alleged victims.
When asked how these lawsuits came about, Babin responded, "I mean, it was essentially started by the Boy Scouts themselves. There were a number of lawsuits that had been filed across the country. I think the Boy Scouts did some internal audits and investigations, and determined that the amount of liability is tremendous here. So, the option would be to continue to litigate in regular court, or to go into bankruptcy and see if some type of resolution can be gained through reorganization."
The Boy Scouts of America declined an interview request, but has said, "Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children."
Full Measure After Hours also highlighted about a dozen criminal cases involving Scout leaders including:
- A leader who gave liquor to boys as young as age 10 and showed them pornography before raping them.
- A chaplain now serving 40 years for sexually assaulting six boys, one who was developmentally disabled.
- A former leader now serving life in prison after molesting boys as young as age eight, and allegedly trying to have some of them killed.
- A leader who raped a 12-year-old and sold him for sex with other men, serving prison time for molesting boys.
The total number of criminal cases remains unknown, Babin said.
"So, I know that there are abusers that have been convicted. I don't know how many. I do know that the Boy Scouts kept files - they called them the 'pervert files' - on hand, that were files of known abusers," he said.
Babin explained that the files "are lists of individuals who have been accused of child abuse, child sex abuse in this case, and what the Boy Scouts did with those lists, which is, essentially, nothing. Oftentimes, they were simply moved to another troop, or quietly moved out of the Boy Scouts."
The Boy Scouts organization has admitted to maintaining extensive confidential files, but said the goal was to keep sexual abusers out of scouting.