Recently released files from the Boy Scouts of America list more than one-thousand files on men barred from volunteering with the Scouts. Men would be put on these “Ineligible Volunteer” files because of known or suspected sexual abuse, or other conduct the Scouts consider inappropriate. The files released date from 1965 to 1985. Six of them relate to Montana Scout leaders in Billings, Butte, Cascade, Libby and Kalispell.
Last fall the Portland, Oregon firm O’Donnell, Clark, and Crew filed a civil suit on behalf of several girls sexually abused sexually abused by Kalispell scout leader William Leininger Jr. He was convicted in 1976 of sexual abuse of the girls who ranged in age from 11 to 14 at the time. They were part of a co-ed Scouting program in Kalispell in 1974.
The lawsuit claims the Boy Scouts organization failed to prevent these crimes by not properly training and supervising its volunteers.It goes on to claim the Boy Scouts organization had information stretching back decades alerting it to the potential for child abuse, and failed to act. These “Ineligible Volunteer” files have information on more than 12-hundred and men went public last week.
Gilion Dumas is a partner with O’Donnell, Clark and Crew.
“The Boy Scouts of America are liable for the acts of Mr. Leininger,” dumas said, “because he was acting as their agent. In addition to being the leader of their Explorer Troop, he also was a member of the Montana Council of Boy Scouts,” Dumas said the files also prove the Boy Scouts are guilty of fraud as they had a body of knowledge stretching out over decades showing the danger to kids. “Yet they didn’t share that information with the public including the families that were putting their children into the Boy Scouts. Instead, the Boy Scouts had a concerted effort to make sure that their reputation remained untarnished, and that they had a reputation as a safe and fun and worthwhile activity for children.”
Dumas’ Portland, Oregon firm represented a former scout in a civil suit in that state which resulted in an $18-million-dollar award to the plaintiff. The firm used the files as exhibits in the case. At the trials end, the judge ordered the files be made public, a decision upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court.
The Boy Scouts of America says the “Ineligible Volunteer” files were established more than 80-years ago as a list of people who can no longer work with the scouts because of known or suspected abuse or other conduct considered inappropriate.
In a statement BSA National President Wayne Perry said, “there have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong.”
Perry goes on to say today the organization is considered a leader in preventing abuse by many child protective organizations and he lists the Boy Scouts standards: background checks for volunteers became standard in 2008, volunteers must take Youth Protection Training before working with kids, and at least two adults must be present on all Scout outings to avoid one-on-one contact.
The BSA says it keeps its Ineligible Volunteer files confidential because it believes confidentiality will encourage prompt reporting. It continues to use the system and says many of the files show the system has worked to prevent men from re-entering the Scouting program.
Dumas said the Boy Scouts have made some good changes, “the goal is to make the Boy Scouts as an institution of trust take responsibility for where they fell down on the job.” Dumas said her firm is also representing others abused by the men identified in the Montana files. She said they hope the release of the files will encourage witnesses, or other victims to come forward.