Shari Karney talks about Los Angeles Times excerpt on secret files held by Boy Scouts


Question: One characteristic of the child molester in the case of a Stephen Field who was expelled by the Boy Scouts is his persistence. So the Los Angeles Times recently writes in their report on the subject of Child Molesting. Stephen Field continued with the Boy Scouts, unbeknownst to the National Scouting Office after a period of being away due to his expulsion. He started back in another location. Would you say this is a typical practice in general by Child Molesters? Is the confidential or secret nature of the files held by the Boy Scouts on child molesters and suspected child molesters in their midst actually an impediment to keeping them out and having them prosecuted?

Shari Karney: The files that the Boy Scouts are keeping secret are similar to the files kept secret by the Roman Catholic Church. The only thing the secret files do is protect the perpetrator. If you are a parent of a child in the Boy Scouts, and your child was molested by a Scout Leader, how outraged would you be that the Scouts kept the file secret?  Perpetrators count on silence. Silence does not protect the child. In the Penn State trial, when one child spoke out that helps to protect future generations of children.  I believe the Boy Scouts, the Roman Catholic Church, and Universities should not keep secret files. Child Molesting thrives in privacy. One good example is Stephen Field of the Boy Scouts.   This is an incident reported in that same Los Angeles Times article: In September 1978, Scouting officials in North Carolina investigated the alleged abuse of a Scout by Mark F. Bumgarner, a 21-year-old assistant scoutmaster. One night after most Scouts had retired to their tents at Camp Schiele, the boy stayed up talking with Bumgarner, who reached into the boy’s pants and fondled him, according to a statement from the boy’s father that is in Bumgarner’s file. The boy objected repeatedly, but Bumgarner persisted, telling him “the cartilage in [his] penis was similar to his nose and that he could break it,” the father wrote. After “considerable discussion,” the national office decided that Bumgarner, an Eagle Scout and the son of the pastor whose church sponsored the troop, deserved another chance. Months later, he was arrested for sexually abusing two Scouts during a camp-out. He pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse, prompting the national office to expel him and open a file.

The question of you is this: Do you think a policy, like that of the Boy Scouts, is a good one when a child molester is given a second chance and put back into working with children in a trusted relationship?  One reason the Boy Scouts give for this kind of decision about policy is sometimes cases about Child Molesting are weak. Is there such a situation where a case is “weak?”

Shari Karney: Err on the side of the child, because I don’t believe that where an individual has such unlimited access to children, we should allow an accused to be around children. Even in a “weak” Child Molesting case. I don’t understand the policy of the giving an accused Child Molester a second chance. Why relocate an accused them to another location. It always gets back to the question, Who are we protecting? The point is we protect Child Molesters against powerless children. We do this because they’re a member of the “adult club.” Children are second class citizens. I think that children in this country have their basic needs provided for: Food, shelter, and clothing. But still children don’t have full legal rights of an adult. That’s the job of the legislature, the Congress, and all of us. We need a Children’s Bill of Rights! So that when the Boy Scout transfers an accused molester, a child has a Constitutional civil right to be free of child molestation. One thing about giving children Constitutional Rights, the consequences would be overwhelming to violators. Would the Boy Scouts transfer a racist Scout Leader to another location, for if they did there would be a Constitutional based legal action as well as a lawsuit for money damages.   Los Angeles Times review of Boy Scout documents shows that a blacklist meant to protect boys from sexual predators too often failed in its mission.   By Jason Felch and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times August 5, 2012 For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America has relied on a confidential blacklist known as the “perversion files” as a crucial line of defense against sexual predators. Scouting officials say they’ve used the files to prevent hundreds of men who had been expelled for alleged sexual abuse from returning to the ranks. They’ve fought hard in court to keep the records from public view, saying confidentiality was needed to protect victims, witnesses and anyone falsely accused. “It is a fact that Scouts are safer because the barrier created by these files is real,” Scouts Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca said in video posted on the organization’s website in June. DOCUMENTS: Read the Boy Scouts files That barrier, however, has been breached repeatedly. A Los Angeles Times review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist. In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on “probation.” In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.   Boy Scout files reveal repeat child abuse by sexual predators,0,5822319.story