Society

Boy Scouts refer 120 allegations of sex abuse to law enforcement

The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday said it has referred about 120 allegations of abuse by scout leaders to law enforcement for further investigation, saying it believes victims and that the youth organization is working to identify "additional alleged perpetrators."

Image: Boy  Scouts by the numbers / cnn.com

Image: Boy Scouts by the numbers / cnn.com

"We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," the youth organization said in a written statement. "We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward."

The Boy Scouts issued the statement a day after a lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania, accusing a scout leader in the state of committing "unspeakable acts of sexual abuse" against a boy during overnight camping trips and day excursions. The abuse included "hundreds of instances of fondling, hundreds of incidents of oral sexual assault and repeated attempts of anal penetration," according to the suit.

"The Boy Scout Defendants' conduct was an outrageous violation of societal norms and went so far beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the suit says.

The allegations were made by a now 57-year-old man identified only as S.D. The suit also alleged the assistant scoutmaster "actively groomed young boys under his charge for later sexual molestation." The accuser said he would be plied with drugs and alcohol before being abused, including acts of sodomy.

The suit went on to say the scout leader "utilized physical, emotional and spiritual force and persuasion to impose his moral will upon the then minor S.D. in order to commit grievous, unspeakable acts of sexual abuse." The abuse began "sometime in approximately 1974 or 1975 and continuing until approximately 1979 or 1980," according to the suit.

The accuser is being represented by Abused in Scouting, a group of three law firms that came together to shed light on abuse within the Boy Scouts.

The group said it has been contacted by around 800 men over the last six months with credible allegations of abuse by scout leaders and it has identified about 350 scout leaders not contained in the so-called "perversion files," a blacklist of alleged molesters within the organization first identified in 2012 by the Los Angeles Times.

Abused in Scouting said it provided the Boy Scouts with a spreadsheet of its list of alleged abusers a couple of months ago. The group said it would like to know more details about what the Boy Scouts shared with police and if arrests have been made.

"We welcome transparency with the Boy Scouts," Abused in Scouting told CNN. "If you're hunting down pedophiles, that's relevant. Show us what you're doing."

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., earlier Tuesday, Tim Kosnoff, an attorney with Abused in Scouting, described the Boy Scouts as "the largest pedophile ring on Earth." He said he had pored over more than 6,200 files pertaining to alleged abuse and was shocked by what was contained in the documents.

Kosnoff told CNN's sister network HLN that the extent of the abuse is "staggering."

"The important thing here to know is the 800 represent just the tip of the iceberg," Kosnoff said. "It's been really overwhelming."

The suit was filed Monday in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas and named the Boy Scouts of America, the Penn Mountains Council and S.D.'s alleged abuser. CNN is not naming the person at this time. He has not been charged with a crime.

The suit said the Boy Scouts "knew for decades that sexual predators of boys had infiltrated scouting" and that the organization did little to stop the abuse.

In its statement to CNN, the Boy Scouts said they have taken the allegations leveled by Abused in Scouting extremely seriously, including reaching out to local law enforcement agencies after being provided the spreadsheet with the names of alleged abusers.

"Our efforts have already resulted in approximately 120 reports to the lead law enforcement agency in each state with an accusation of abuse. We have also contacted local law enforcement for all the cases in which enough information was provided to identify the correct agency," the organization said.

The Boy Scouts added: "We are continuing to manually search paper records at the local level to see if we can identify more information about the additional alleged perpetrators identified in the plaintiff's attorneys list. As we identify sufficient information, we will immediately notify law enforcement."

Included with the statement was an email dated June 24 from the Boy Scouts lead attorney to Abused in Scouting.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of youth in our programs, and we take allegations of abuse extremely seriously," wrote Steven McGowan, the general counsel for the Boy Scouts. "If we determine that an incident you describe involves a known perpetrator listed in our Volunteer Screening Database ("VSD"), or an identifiable individual not currently listed in the VSD, then we will send the information you provided with information we have to law enforcement."

Abused in Scouting responded Tuesday by saying they would like to know more about what the Boy Scouts sent on to police.

"We demand proof of the contacts you've made. Show us -- us being the public -- the work you claim you've made," Abused in Scouting said.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleged the abuse started when the accuser was about 12 or 13 years old.

The scout leader, the suit said, "enticed, induced, directed, coerced and forced S.D. to engage in deviant sexual acts with him."

The Boy Scouts of America has been rocked by allegations of sex abuse in recent years. Earlier this year newly exposed court testimony revealed the youth organization believed more than 7,800 of its former leaders were involved in sexually abusing children over the course of 72 years -- about 2,800 more leaders than previously known publicly.

Kosnoff with Abused in Scouting said Tuesday he believes the abuse is far higher and that he's determined to expose it. "They are the true hidden predators in our communities," he said.

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