Thousands of Boy Scout leaders in the United States are facing allegations of sexual abuse after confidential files revealed that more than 12,000 minors have fallen victim to the organization’s pedophile predators since the 1940s.
Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the former scouts claiming they had been sexually abused, said on Tuesday that there were at least 7,819 suspected perpetrators and 12,254 victims in the “perversion files” related to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) between 1944 and 2016.
"That is a number not known before today or ever revealed by the Boy Scouts of America," Anderson said during a press conference in New York.
The US attorney denounced the BSA as a system of denial and cover-ups, claiming that the organization has files on child abusers within its ranks dating back to the 1940s and yet to be disclosed.
"For many, many years there's been an excavation of what are called the 'perversion files' — those are files held and hoarded at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters," Anderson said.
“Those 'perversion files' that they've had reflect that they have removed thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse over the years and they've kept that in files secretly," he added.
Anderson said his legal team has identified 130 of the alleged perpetrators in New York and 50 in New Jersey so far, and that he plans to file multiple lawsuits against the BSA on behalf of the victims. He has also demanded that the organization hand over their files, including names of those accused of abuse.
“The alarming thing about this is not just the number but the fact is that the Boy Scouts of America has never actually released these names in any form that can be known to the public,” he said at the news conference.
Anderson also stated that the perpetrators on the list may have been removed from scouting but would not have faced consequences or prohibitions outside the organization so that they could be prevented from holding jobs or volunteer roles around young people.
The BSA claimed in a statement that every instance of suspected abuse had been reported to law enforcement and that the accused individuals had been removed from the organization.
The BSA said they "care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting."
The revelation on Tuesday comes amid an ongoing wave of accusations about sexual harassment in the US, which has toppled a number of powerful men in the media, politics, business and the Catholic Church.