ONTD Political

TRIGGER FOR CHILD ABUSE: Boy Scouts helped alleged molesters cover tracks, files show

2:02 pm - 09/16/2012

Assistant troop leader William Lazzareschi was expelled from the Scouts after he admitted engaging in a sex act with a boy, according to one file. But nothing in the file indicates the Scouts called police.

Over two decades, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.

A Los Angeles Times review of 1,600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign — and helped many cover their tracks.

Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to leave citing bogus reasons such as business demands, "chronic brain dysfunction" and duties at a Shakespeare festival.




The details are contained in the organization's confidential "perversion files," a blacklist of alleged molesters, that the Scouts have used internally since 1919. Scouts' lawyers around the country have been fighting in court to keep the files from public view.

As The Times reported in August, the blacklist often didn't work: Men expelled for alleged abuses slipped back into the program, only to be accused of molesting again. Now, a more extensive review has shown that Scouts sometimes abetted molesters by keeping allegations under wraps.

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.


In 1982, a Michigan Boy Scout camp director who learned of allegations of repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn't promptly report them because his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and the accused staff member.

"He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet," according to a police report in the file.


That same year, the director of a Boy Scout camp in Virginia wrote to the Scouts' top lawyer, asking for help dealing with a veteran employee suspected of a "lifelong pattern" of abuse that had not been reported to police.

"When a problem has surfaced, he has been asked to leave a position 'of his own free will' rather than risk further investigation," the director wrote. "The time has come for someone to make a stand and prevent further occurrences."

There is no indication the Scouts took the matter to law enforcement.

In 1976, five Boy Scouts wrote detailed complaints accusing a Pennsylvania scoutmaster of two rapes and other sex crimes, according to his file. He abruptly resigned in writing, saying he had to travel more for work.

"Good luck to you in your new position," a top troop representative wrote back. He said he was accepting the resignation "with extreme regret."


Scouting officials declined to be interviewed for this article. In a prepared statement, spokesman Deron Smith said, "We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement and today require our members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to their local authorities."

The organization instituted that requirement in 2010. Before then, the policy was to obey state laws, which didn't always require youth groups to report abuse.

In some instances, however, the Scouts may have violated those state laws. Since the early 1970s, for example, New Jersey has required anyone who suspects child abuse to report it. In several cases there, the Scouts received firsthand reports of alleged abuse, but nothing in the files indicates they informed authorities.

In the 1970s and '80s, secrecy was embedded in the Scouts' policies and procedures for handling child sexual abuse.

A cover sheet that accompanied many confidential files included a check box labeled "Internal (only scouts know)" as an option for how cases were resolved. A form letter sent to leaders being dismissed over abuse allegations stated: "We are making no accusations and will not release this information to anyone, so our action in no way will affect your standing in the community."

That letter was included in the organization's 1972 policy on how to remove unfit leaders, which, according to an attached memo, was kept confidential "because of misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed."


The files at times provide an incomplete account of how abuse allegations were resolved. In his statement, the Scouting spokesman said, "In many instances, basic details are missing as they were not relevant to the BSA's sole reason for keeping files, which was to help identify and keep a list of individuals deemed to be unfit for membership in Scouting."

Still, they reveal a culture in which even known molesters were shown extraordinary deference.

In a 1987 case in Washington state, a district executive wrote to the national office complaining that his boss had refused to put a former scoutmaster on the blacklist, despite a molestation conviction, "because he has done so much for camp and is a nice guy."

He had handed a newspaper clipping of the conviction to his boss, who "crumpled it up, said he saw it already, and then said, 'Why don't you just put it up on a billboard for everyone to see?'" the executive wrote. "Since that time, nothing has been done."


A Maryland leader, who in 1990 "readily agreed" that abuse allegations against him were true, was given six weeks to resign and told he could give "his associates whatever reason that he chose," his file shows.

"This gave him an opportunity to withdraw from Scouting in a graceful manner to be determined by him," an official wrote. "We also reminded [him] that he had agreed to keep the whole matter confidential and we would not talk to anyone in order to give [him] complete ability to voluntarily withdraw."

In many cases, Scouting officials said they were keeping allegations quiet as a way of sparing young victims embarrassment.

The result was that some alleged molesters went on to abuse other children, according to the Scouts' documents and court records.


With 50 years in Scouting, Arthur W. Humphries appeared to be a model leader, winning two presidential citations and the Scouts' top award for distinguished service — the Silver Beaver — for his work with disabled boys in Chesapeake, Va.

Unknown to most in town, he also was a serial child molester.

A few months after Humphries' arrest in 1984, local Scouting official Jack Terwilliger told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that no one at the local Scout council had had suspicions about Humphries.

But that was not true. Records in Humphries' file show that six years earlier, Terwilliger had ordered officials to interview a Scout who gave a detailed account of Humphries' repeated acts of oral sex on him.

"He then told me to do the same and I did," the 12-year-old boy said in a sworn statement in 1978.

Officials not only failed to report Humphries' alleged crime to police, records show — they also gave him a strong job reference two years later, when he applied for a post at a national Scouting event.

"I believe the attached letters of recommendation and the newspaper write-up will give you a well rounded picture of Art," Terwilliger wrote. "If selected, I am sure that he would add much to the handicapped awareness trail at the 1981 Jamboree."

Humphries continued to work with Scouts and molested at least five more boys before police, acting on a tip, stopped him in 1984. He was convicted of abusing 20 Boy Scouts, some as young as 8, and was sentenced to 151 years in prison.

By then, one of the Scouts he'd abused a decade earlier had become his accomplice. He was convicted of molesting many of the same boys at Humphries' house.


Humphries and Terwilliger are both deceased.

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.

The Boy Scouts of America generally has responded to allegations of past abuse by emphasizing its increased efforts to protect children in recent decades.

In the 1990s, for instance, it mandated background checks of staffers and in 2008 extended that requirement to all volunteers. The organization also has stepped up child abuse prevention training. The effect of those policies is hard to gauge because the Scouts have neither released nor analyzed more recent files.

Regardless, the Scouts have taken no steps to account for unreported crimes years ago. In some of those cases, not even parents of abuse victims were told what happened.

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.

Lazzareschi was convicted of sexual assault in 1997 and possession of child pornography in 2005, but he is no longer in prison, state records show. Neither he nor Micarelli, who retired to Florida more than 20 years ago, could be reached for comment.

The Scouts sometimes had help in keeping abuse out of the public eye.

When a Los Angeles Scout leader was caught by police with hundreds of photos of naked Scouts in 1984 — many showing him giving enemas to boys — Scouting officials worked closely with police and the county children services department to keep the case from becoming public and embarrassing the Scouts.

A summary of a meeting between Scouting officials and local agencies contained this conclusion: "We recognize that this unfortunate situation was no reflection on the Boy Scouts of America whose integrity and reputation must be maintained."

In July 1987, a top official at Boy Scouts headquarters sent an internal "news advisory" to national leaders about allegations against a high-ranking Scout council leader in Milwaukee.

"Dr. Thomas Kowalski, chairman of health and safety for the Milwaukee County Council, one of the most prominent physicians in the state and one of the authors of the Wisconsin laws on child abuse, has been removed from his BSA volunteer position(s) following allegations that he made sexual advances to two 16-year-old youths at the council's summer long-term camp," the advisory read.

Kowalski admitted masturbating while fondling the two boys. Wisconsin Scouting officials reported the incidents to police, as required by state law, but the parents chose not to press charges, the file says.

The Scouts then turned to a well-connected board member to keep the matter out of the news media — an unnamed publisher of local newspapers.

The publisher "is aware of the situation but apparently will not be passing the information to his editors," the Scouting official wrote.

The case was not reported in the press, and Kowalski continued to work with children for the next 14 years, until he retired from his medical practice in 2001.


In an interview, Kowalski, now 75 and living in Milwaukee, said that he had received psychiatric counseling for years and had never re-offended.

"The topic has not come up until your phone call today," he said. "Had that been publicized, I would have been out of business, reputation destroyed, and I don't know how I would have faced people at church."



source. i am literally shaking. the nerve of these assholes to hold themselves up as the arbiters of morality in this country, while allowing this shit to go on for years, is just astounding.
kuhori_rei 16th-Sep-2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
This hits literally close to home--Yawgoog is my dad's camp, he worked there as a scout master for over 30 years. He always talks about it as such a great place. It's awful that something like this could be happening there. :(
nesmith 16th-Sep-2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
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.


Jesus fucking Christ, are Catholic priests EVERYWHERE when it comes to child molesting? And yet they're still out there trying to pretend they're anything other than disgusting hypocritical perverts??
compost75 16th-Sep-2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
It's absolutely FASCINATING that two of the biggest organizations with the staunchest homophobic stance are so deeply involved in pedophilia and covering it up.
4o5pastmidnight 17th-Sep-2012 12:17 am (UTC)
It's because they're idiots and don't seem to realize that gay men aren't into molesting little boys, but pedophiles (who often identify as heterosexual) sure as shit are.
zinnia_rose 17th-Sep-2012 01:10 am (UTC)
MTE. And we're supposed to regard them as the epitome of morality.
romp 17th-Sep-2012 02:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, it appears they have good reason for telling people to look to gay men to find pedophiles. :(
mycenaes 16th-Sep-2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
this is horrifying. God.
bonesnapdeez 16th-Sep-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Between this and the homophobia, any and all respect I once had for the Boy Scouts of America has hit rock bottom.

A local doctor made news recently when he returned his Eagle Scout award to BSA. I think I'll do the same.
yeats 16th-Sep-2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
there's actually a blog of individuals who chose to return their badges, along with their letters explaining their decision. it's at once heartbreaking and deeply restorative for my feelings toward humanity.
umi_mikazuki 16th-Sep-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
In 1982, a Michigan Boy Scout camp director who learned of allegations of repeated abuse by a staff member told police he didn't promptly report them because his bosses wanted to protect the reputation of the Scouts and the accused staff member.


A form letter sent to leaders being dismissed over abuse allegations stated: "We are making no accusations and will not release this information to anyone, so our action in no way will affect your standing in the community."


In a 1987 case in Washington state, a district executive wrote to the national office complaining that his boss had refused to put a former scoutmaster on the blacklist, despite a molestation conviction, "because he has done so much for camp and is a nice guy."


When a Los Angeles Scout leader was caught by police with hundreds of photos of naked Scouts in 1984 — many showing him giving enemas to boys — Scouting officials worked closely with police and the county children services department to keep the case from becoming public and embarrassing the Scouts.


"The topic has not come up until your phone call today," he said. "Had that been publicized, I would have been out of business, reputation destroyed, and I don't know how I would have faced people at church."


arisma 16th-Sep-2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
But.. did you miss the part where he's a nice guy? Surely that makes it all better.
umi_mikazuki 16th-Sep-2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, that clearly makes up for everything else. He's a nice guy.
arisma 16th-Sep-2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Also he did things for the camp. It's a truly compelling argument.
harumi 16th-Sep-2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
At this point any guy who describes himself as "nice" will be getting a punch in the face. Just in case.
vampslayer04 16th-Sep-2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
That gif, where does that come from?
arisma 16th-Sep-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
Idk for sure but I'd guess Ringer based on who's in it. (S01E14, fyi)

Edited at 2012-09-16 09:17 pm (UTC)
vampslayer04 16th-Sep-2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks. My brain was just trying to put SMG and Misha Collins in the same place and failing. I wasn't aware he'd been in an episode of Ringer until now.
arisma 17th-Sep-2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Sure thing! I haven't seen it but I heard about it at the time. Misha is love.
fuck_of_nature 17th-Sep-2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Hope this isn't inappropriate, but I love your gif.
mollywobbles867 16th-Sep-2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
I was just thinking today after seeing my goddaughters that I was so happy the oldest was joining Girl Scouts and my friend, her mom, was going to be active in it again because of that. (I saw a GS billboard too.) That got me thinking about the homophobia in boy scouts and how I was happy my nephews never joined it. This makes me want BS to be closed. Maybe to replace it, the people who run Girl Scouts could come up with something for boys that is just as accepting as GS. And without this abuse.
kyra_neko_rei 16th-Sep-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
This. Have the Girl Scouts expand into the Scouts, or the Boy and Girl Scouts, or the Girl and Boy Scouts, or something. Import the animal imagery from Boy Scouts but drop the Native American appropriation; keep the cookies, make sure there's a deliberate effort to teach mutual respect so the boys or the more dominant personalities don't dominate the situation; structure activities to require cooperation so the boys and girls don't just separate into their own groups; have the uniforms run up or down the color spectrum by age group so that a picture of scouts of multiple ages forms a rainbow; have leaders of both genders teach and make sure they're not allowed to shuffle boys toward "boy things" and girls toward "girl things;" encourage them all to try everything and indicate visible role models of both sexes for various activities---male and female chefs, mechanics, campers/mountainclimbers/canoeists, tailors/knitters/fashion designers, et cetera; make sure every child gets a chance to try something AND have opportunity to practice, work, and improve at it, so nobody is shunted into a position of being a failure at, say, firestarting, because it didn't work perfectly for them the first time.

Et cetera.

Oh, and that any allegation of abuse gets instantly reported to the police, and they handle it. Some lessons attacking the things that get victims to keep quiet would also be useful---"If somebody touches you and you don't like it, you can say no; if somebody keeps doing it, that's bad of them; it's okay to feel conflicted but you should tell when someone does XYZ because they're not supposed to be doing that and they could hurt somebody; being hurt or abused doesn't make you bad or weak or pathetic; you might feel ashamed but you are not to blame; if you have been keeping it silent for awhile, you can still tell; better late than never." Et cetera.
romp 17th-Sep-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
I'd be happy to see BS closed. International scouting isn't generally gender-specific or religious or homophobic. It would be a fine place to restart.
natyanayaki 17th-Sep-2012 04:26 am (UTC)
Maybe I'm paranoid, but why are we so sure that crap like this doesn't occur in the GS? :-(
roseofjuly 19th-Sep-2012 12:44 am (UTC)
We can't be 100% sure, but the Girl Scouts have been generally awesome in terms of their acceptance of all kinds of people and they've been in the news several times for accepting Scouts with non-binary gender identities or who were transgendered. That doesn't mean they don't have shitty things going on in the background, but somehow I doubt it.
natyanayaki 19th-Sep-2012 02:23 am (UTC)
Maybe, I just think it's really important for parents to evaluate the people involved in local chapters, rather than evaluating the relative trustworthiness on a national scale. I also think that as a whole we tend to think that women -and as a result organizations/classes run by women- are safer for children. I don't dispute that there could be a hormonal/biological reason to support the notion that women are less abusive than men (lower testosterone levels, results in less aggressiveness which could result in fewer cases of abusive personalities in women) but I think that many people (and the media) seems to ignore that all women aren't perfect. You know what I mean? Look at the tonal difference when the media covers female teachers who have sex with male students vs. male teachers who have sex with female students.

All in all, I think the need for such discussions is really depressing.
fenris_lorsrai 17th-Sep-2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Way back when, the high school age of Girl Scouts was semi co-ed since the specialty troops were so small, it was usually more efficient to pair up with their specialty counterparts in the Boy Scouts. The Mariners often shared a troop with the Boy Scout Sea Scouts and the Girl Scout Wing Scouts paired up with the Air Scouts. So while technically separate programs, they were in practice co-ed... in the 1940s and 1950s!

The Mariners were basically interested in naval stuff, Wing Scouts were interested in aviation. (My mother was a Wing Scout and was in one of the functionally co-ed troops) The programs have since faded away as they moved away from the military overtones, but they've DONE co-ed stuff in the past. (and college age is effectively co-ed as you're considered "adults", so guys may register)
aviv_b 16th-Sep-2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
But...But...think of the reputations of the poor child molesters.

Damn, this pisses me off.
baka_tenshi 16th-Sep-2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
fuck the boy scouts and fuck the catholic church
free_spoons 16th-Sep-2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Jeez, some of these written excuses for allowing molesters to resign sound like the BS think they're on the losing end here.

"This gave him an opportunity to withdraw from Scouting in a graceful manner to be determined by him," an official wrote. "We also reminded [him] that he had agreed to keep the whole matter confidential and we would not talk to anyone in order to give [him] complete ability to voluntarily withdraw."

Like somehow the molester is being given something to prevent him from doing something bad to the scouts.
vulturoso 17th-Sep-2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
I've worked in HR, and I can tell you that there are hard-working employees who are let go and receive less hand-holding, TLC, and consideration than these fucking PEDOPHILES were afforded. Disgusting.
tabaqui 16th-Sep-2012 10:03 pm (UTC)
The blacklist needs to be public, now. Every single person needs to be tracked down and arrested. Now. And the Scouts need to be disbanded.

This is revolting, and horrifying, and is beyond 'fixing'. This is so wrong and fucked up on so many levels it makes me want to physically damage people.

romp 17th-Sep-2012 02:28 am (UTC)
cosigned
paksenarrion2 17th-Sep-2012 02:33 am (UTC)
This so much. Every single person that was involved in the cover up needs to be prosecuted.
natyanayaki 17th-Sep-2012 04:18 am (UTC)
Me too.
lovedforaday 16th-Sep-2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
this is disgusting. hopefully this will hit the national mainstream media tomorrow.

luminescnece 16th-Sep-2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Scouts: Proving how essentially, when push comes to shove... Western attitudes towards children have only sort of changed since 1892.

Children's lives < the reputations of adults

romp 17th-Sep-2012 02:30 am (UTC)
so true, despite all the messages on caring about children
kyra_neko_rei 16th-Sep-2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
In a prepared statement, spokesman Deron Smith said, "We have always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement

That's kind of as worthless as groping someone out of left field and then saying "well, you didn't say that I couldn't." The cops don't go around making specific requests of people when nobody's directed their suspicions (at least, not to "upstanding" members of the community such as boy scout leaders); they're not psychic, and keeping quiet about abuse and then wondering why the cops didn't ask for information about the abuse allegations they weren't told about is patently ridiculous.

In a 1987 case in Washington state, a district executive wrote to the national office complaining that his boss had refused to put a former scoutmaster on the blacklist, despite a molestation conviction, "because he has done so much for camp and is a nice guy."

Nice. Pay for "help around the camp" and "niceness" by offering them access to children to molest. Ugh.

"He stated that he had been advised by his supervisors and legal counsel that he should neutralize the situation and keep it quiet," according to a police report in the file.

Legal counsel? Speaking of people who should be in prison . . .
that_therapist 16th-Sep-2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
Reminds me a lot of what the Catholic Church did in Ireland to cover up sexual abuse by priests. Just give the priest a slap on the wrist, and send him of to another parish in another corner of the country. And of course, tell him to not do it again. The victims were more often than not called liars.
babysinclair 16th-Sep-2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
They did that all over
romp 17th-Sep-2012 02:33 am (UTC)
in many countries for many years--they just relocated the pedophiles to a new crop of victims
the_physicist 17th-Sep-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
-_- yeah, just change the setting and the organisation, isn't it? urgh.

all the time.
ty 17th-Sep-2012 12:37 am (UTC)
I feel like vomiting. And crying.
the_physicist 17th-Sep-2012 02:38 am (UTC)
same here
natyanayaki 17th-Sep-2012 04:11 am (UTC)
Why the fuck do all these organizations, that have such power over the lives of little children, cover this crap up? (And why is it that they are often homophobic institutions? I'm def not connecting homosexuality with child molestation...NOT AT ALL...I just find it interesting that these organizations that are judgmental of consensual, adult relationships are actually...well...criminal organizations.)
iolarah 17th-Sep-2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
Despicable. Anyone who covered it up, or told them to cover it up, should burn in hell, if there is one.
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