True to their motto, the Boys Scouts tried to be prepared. For months, they braced for the backlash sure to follow the court-ordered release of voluminous confidential files detailing decades of alleged sex abuse by Scout leaders.
Now the files are public, lawyers are calling for a congressional investigation and the Boy Scouts of America — as so often in recent years — finds itself embattled.
The files released last week are old — dating from 1959 to 1985.
Still, release of 14,500 pages on alleged abusers is an unwelcome development for an organization struggling to halt a decades-long membership drop while incurring relentless criticism for its policy of excluding gays.
It does pose a challenge for the Scouts, whether they're going to be able to win back the confidence of the public, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. I'm sure for some period of time, there's going to be a concern.
Since the files were released — the consequence of a successful $20 million lawsuit against the Scouts in Portland, Ore. — the BSA has apologized for not following up on some of the allegations that were documented. It also has stressed the strides made by the organization to improve its youth protection policy.
Many people posting their views on social media questioned the Scouts' recently reaffirmed policy of excluding gays while seemingly shielding child abusers in their midst.