The LA Times continues to analyze the cache of files released by the Boy Scouts of America in September that document allegations of sexual misconduct from 1970 to 1991, and finds that the organization's refusal to conduct criminal background checks on its scoutmasters led to a staggering amount of sexual abuse. The BSA did not require background checks for volunteers until 2008, more than 20 years after organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters ordered them. From 1985 to 1991 alone, more than 230 men with criminal histories of sex crimes against children were admitted to scouting, and were responsible for the molestation of around 400 Boy Scouts.
The BSA pushed to defeat state legislation that would require background checks, and promised to properly vet volunteers without it—in part through the 1,900 "perversion files" kept on suspected child abusers that were previously shrouded in secrecy before being released in September. The files also contain warnings from parents and scout leaders who plead with the BSA to conduct due diligence on when selecting volunteers.
"BSA is only creating an illusion of performing what they claim," one Scout chairman wrote to headquarters in 1989. "It becomes quite clear that BSA is more concerned in 'passing the buck' than in accepting responsibility for those who are its adult leaders." In 1994, when the Boy Scouts begun mandating checks for all employees but not volunteers, a spokesman noted they couldn't afford the $41 million it would cost to vet them: "We don't have that." That year, the BSA took in $486 million.
It wasn't until 2004 that checks became mandatory on all volunteers, but the BSA still refused to conduct them on those who were already in the organization. Soon after, a longtime scoutmaster was convicted of fondling a scout, and it was revealed that he had "sexually assaulted juvenile males in every area of the country he has lived in during the last 40 years." In 2008, the BSA required checks for everyone.
A spokesman for the BSA responded to the LA Times' report: "Numerous independent experts have recognized that our programs for protecting Scouts from abuse are among the best in the youth-serving community."