By: Ashley Hadler, Attorney
Sexual abuse allegations from former scouts across the country are piling up against the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts organization, which provides programming for millions of children across the country, is embroiled in multiple lawsuits regarding their policies on background checks. The civil lawsuits allege the policies allowed more than 7,000 perpetrators of sexual abuse to volunteer. By volunteering, perpetrators had unfettered access to kids as young as five years old. The allegations span many decades and, if founded, are evidence of pervasive and nationwide abuse.
In October 2012, an Oregon court ordered the Boy Scouts to release internal files that were kept to track suspected and convicted child molesters that volunteered for the organization. These files, referred to by the organization as “the red files” or the “ineligible volunteer list,” were nearly 20,000 pages meant for use by the organization to prevent pedophiles from volunteering.
But that list was rarely checked in the hiring process, according to the allegations in recent complaints. The fallout from the release of the red files has been tremendous—current estimates of the number of victims surpass 12,000 boy scouts who were molested and/or sexually abused by troop leaders or other volunteers from 1944 to 2016.
The release of the red files exposed men from every walk of life and every corner of the country, including Indiana. Indiana cases demonstrate the complacency of the Boy Scouts of America in using the red files for their intended purpose—preventing dangerous people from using the organization to gain access to harm children. Thomas Hacker was a troop leader and volunteer for the Boy Scouts in Indiana in the 1970’s before he was convicted of felony child sexual abuse in 1973. Following his conviction, Hacker moved to the Chicago suburbs where he was allowed to re-join as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts, resulting in his molestation and abuse of more children. Fifteen of those Chicago scouts filed suit against the Boy Scouts in 2018.
Yet another Indiana case involved an unnamed troop leader who was added to the red files in 1972 after admitting to molesting young scouts. But officials at the Boy Scouts organization wrote next to his name that he had been “cured” through psychiatric treatments and meetings with his minister, and was subsequently allowed to register as a troop leader once again. Ten years later, the same troop leader was allowed to host a sleepover, after which two boys accused him of molesting them. The troop leader eventually admitted to molesting the boys and resigned from scouting, but there is no indication on whether local law enforcement was ever notified.
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of Boy Scout leaders and volunteers, you are not alone. Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting for survivors of sexual abuse in the civil justice system. Our sexual abuse attorneys have received professional training to deal with the unique circumstances that survivors of sexual abuse and trauma face. If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, please contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.