Organization continues century-long practice of putting
self-preservation above transparency, accountability,
and protection of children
(Saint Paul, MN) – The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed bankruptcy early Tuesday as the number of sexual abuse claims against the organization continues to rise. Attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates believes that the Boy Scouts of America are using Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to keep perpetrator names and documents secret.
“I don’t believe that this legal maneuver by the Boy Scouts of America will stop survivors from coming forward and shining a light on the perpetrators and perilous practices hidden by the organization,” said Anderson, who has represented Scout abuse survivors for decades.
Anderson currently represents hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts across the country, including dozens of cases in New York, New Jersey, and California.
“It’s important that survivors know they still have a voice and can still bring a claim for the harm they suffered. It’s time for anyone abused as a child in the Scouts to come forward.”
Boy Scouts’ claims of transparency ring hollow while they choose to keep identities of thousands of abusers secret
Since the 1920s, the Boy Scouts of America have compiled and maintained information about known sexual predators within their ranks. The Boy Scouts keep this information in files called “Ineligible Volunteer” files, “IV” files, or “Perversion” files. The information in these files comes from various sources, including reports of sexual abuse supplied by Scouts or their families, internal investigations by Boy Scout officials, or officials at the local council level. The files include the names of alleged abusers, their occupations, how they offended, and where the abuse took place.
For decades, this information about offenders and their practices has been kept internally and secretly within the Boy Scouts of America organization. And for decades, the Boy Scouts of America have worked to keep this information secret. The Perversion Files illustrate the Boy Scouts of America’s longstanding knowledge of child sexual abuse in scouting. Through litigation across the country, courts have ordered the public release of some of these Perversion Files. Jeff Anderson and Associates has created a database of publicly available Perversion Files, which can be accessed here (Chrome or Safari recommended).
Survivor Scott Coats was sexually abused by Scoutmaster Victor L. Sine when he was a member of Troop 59 in Weedsport, New York in the 1970s. Coats filed a lawsuit last month against the Boy Scouts of America and the local council under New York’s Child Victims Act. He hoped his lawsuit would force the Boy Scouts to disclose information about Sine and other perpetrators, but sees the bankruptcy filing as another attempt to keep secrets.
“This bankruptcy is not about finances,” Coats said. “This bankruptcy is about the reputation of the Boy Scouts of America and about silencing victims and keeping the truth away from the eyes of the public.”
Incomplete and involuntary disclosures by the Boy Scouts of America keeps children at risk of sexual abuse today.
In 2012, the Boy Scouts of America were ordered by a judge to disclose the Perversion Files of 1,247 alleged sexual abusers associated with the Scouts between 1965 and 1985. Then in 2019 a child sex abuse expert from the University of Virginia, Dr. Janet Warren, testified in an unrelated case that she was contracted by Boy Scouts of America to review all the Perversion Files they had compiled from 1944 through 2016. Dr. Warren testified that her review of the files identified 7,819 perpetrators believed to have been involved in sexually abusing children. According to Dr. Warren, her review of the BSA files also identified 12,254 victims. The Boy Scouts have refused to make this information public despite recent attempts by Anderson.
Boy Scouts of America refuses to reveal hidden predators and continues to fight efforts by Attorney Jeff Anderson to disclose information that would help protect children.
Last August, Anderson went to Court in Minnesota to ask a judge to allow him to publicly release 1,538 secret Perversion Files his firm received under seal in litigation in another Boy Scout case. Minnesota’s Attorney General, Keith Ellison joined that fight, saying at the time, “[t]here is a compelling public interest in releasing the Perversion Files that the Boy Scouts collected secretly for decades.” Attorney General Ellison received permission from the judge in the case to file legal paperwork supporting Anderson’s efforts to disclose the files on the more than 1,500 perpetrators. Ellison said making the information public was important because, “the public has a right to know about credible allegations about acts of child sexual abuse.”
Ellison noted that, “when credible allegations are disclosed, it also provides survivors with a sense of healing and justice, and encourages more survivors to come forward, all of which are in the public interest.”
Despite the Attorney General’s support, not only were the Boy Scouts of America successful in their fight to keep the files secret, they convinced the judge to make Anderson physically return the Perversion Files they produced in the case so that he could not make the files public on his own.The Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy sends a clear,
re-traumatizing message to child sexual abuse survivors .
Survivor Richard Halvorson feels that he and all other victims are being abused all over again by Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy tactic.
Halvorson, 48, of Estell Manor, New Jersey, near Atlantic City, was sexually abused as a boy by Scoutmaster Angelo “Skip” Dellomo in approximately 1981-83. Dellomo was the adult leader of Boy Scout Troop 6 in Atlantic City and Halvorson was a member of Troop 6 when Dellomo abused him. In December, Halvorson sued the Boy Scouts for the abuse by Dellomo under New Jersey’s new Victim’s Rights bill, which went into effect December 1, 2019 and provides a two-year window for sexual abuse survivors to bring lawsuits in cases that were previously barred by the statute of limitations.
“It isn’t a coincidence that they would file for bankruptcy now after New Jersey, New York and other states passed laws giving survivors an opportunity to seek justice after being shut out for so many years,” said Halvorson.
Halvorson believes Boy Scouts of America did not file bankruptcy as a result of financial mismanagement but did so instead to conceal the truth and in turn avoid providing survivors the justice they deserve.
“This is one way to turn around and victimize the victims again,” Halvorson said.
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