WASHINGTON, October 18, 2012 – The news of the extent of the monsters that lurked inside of the Boy Scouts of America is so gut-wrenching that all most of us can do is cry.
Today, the Oregon Supreme Court authorized the release of previously held “confidential” lists, called by the Scout’s the “perversion files.” These lists were kept by the Scouts and were made up of leaders and volunteers who had been banned by the Scouts after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.
Attorneys who represent victims in several cases already filed against the Scouts allege that the Boy Scouts kept these lists secret in order to protect information about what the Scouts deemed was problematic.
Congressional investigation has been requested.
One civil suit in Oregon produced a verdict of $18.5 million after a Scoutmaster was found guilty of sexually abusing a boy in the 1980’s. The documents released consumed 14,500 pages.
Now we see that the lists, which have been kept since the Scouts were created in 1910, provide information on the incidence of molestation of young males entrusted to the Scouts. They also show that the “cover up” of these events is bigger and more widespread than could ever have been imagined.
It literally boggles the mind.
Police Chiefs, prosecutors, pastors, scoutmasters, and others are or have been involved, and protected, from geographically across the entire country, and to military bases overseas.
The Boy Scouts have fought tooth and nail to keep these documents that contain memos from local and national Scout leaders, letters from victims, and details about proven molesters, locked up.
Kelly Clark, the attorney who won the $18.5 Million suit, said, quite simply, “You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children.”
The silence was justified by the organization “to protect the good name and good works of Scouting.”
The Boy Scouts of America rank among one of the most significant disappointments of the century. The organization was THE role model for our sons during the 20th Century, and the organization is now in the outhouse.
From the law’s view, all of the criminals who participated and all of those who covered up the molestation need to be punished. There are also damages that need to be paid.
Sadly the Boy Scouts are just the newest name on the list of role models who dissapoint.
All of us cried when it came to light that Papa Joe might have known about Jerry Sandusky’s molestations. The magnitude of penalties that reigned down upon Penn State should serve as a model for what will happen to the Scouts organization, times ten.
Very recently, Lance Armstrong resigned from his Livestrong Foundation, the charitable organization he began to help cancer patients, to “spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.”
Nike, known for backing beleaguered athletes until the almost very end, has now dropped him as a spokesperson.
Lance is one of the most colossal disappointments of our time. He compounds that disappointment by continuing to lie about his steroid use. Legally, Lance suffered the loss of his seven Tour de France titles.
It is not correct that there are no victims. How many young men and women took up bicycling because of Lance Armstrong and now feel punched in the gut? How many competitors were unfairly beat out, losing the chance to fairly win and prosper from that win.
Charles Barkley once said for Nike “I am not a role model.” He meant it, and he was very wrong. He, as is any professional athelete, is a role model.
Notwithstanding a personal life that was strife with alleged domestic abuse, infidelity, drinking and gambling, Barkley has mostly always been unabashedly honest and has acknowledged his shortcomings.
For his honesty, he remains a hero and he has been forgiven and his legacy, even though he never got “the ring”, is positive. Lance needs to apologize because as long as he continues to lie, his status as a role model will never be restored.
Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington, D.C. (1978-1987) remains in the public life in the city, despite a cocaine conviction in 1990. Most of America saw the now infamous FBI sting video recording at the Vista International Hotel showing him smoking crack cocaine wiht a woman not his wife, and all who saw that tape remember Barry’s comments that “the b… set me up.”
Unbelievably, convicted only of a misdemeanor, Barry served his six-month sentence and was once again elected Mayor (1992-1994). Barry’s life is one of a continuous involvement with drugs, alcohol and tax evasion issues. Further, he has been called the “poster boy” for corruption bringing international shame on the nation’s capital.
Some see him, despite all of this, as a hero. His supporters point to his civil rights work and his championing the poor. He was THE advocate for statehood status for Washington, D.C. Because of his supporters, mostly in a poor, predominantly black ward, Barry remains a member of the D.C. Council.
An HBO documentary about him is titled “The Nine Lives of Marion Barry.” Barry was, and remains a disappointment, despite his good work.
Legally, he has paid for his crimes: serving time in prison and on probation, he did drug counseling, and in 2010 he was censured by his Council colleagues and stripped of all committee assignments and a committee chairmanship in response to corruption accusations.
There are, unfortunately, many other role models who have had the attention of the world and who have disappointed us.
There is former Presidential candidate John Edwards, if only because of his so public betrayal of his wife. Former President Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” and the continuing aftermath of denials disappointed legions.
Nonetheless, both he and former President John Kennedy remain vastly admired.
Some transgressions do not get punished. President Clinton’s transgressions got him an impeachment hearing. In Kennedy’s era, no one spoke out loud about his extra-curricular activities.
It is my hope that your hero is your mom, or your dad, or both. I, as many would, also nominate teachers (both from public and private schools), particularly those who work with their communities’ mentally and physically challenged youth.
I nominate security forces and the FBI who yesterday foiled, and over and over again foil terrorist attacks, fifteen of which were plotted, according to New York’s police commissioner, in New York since 9-11. I nominate athletes who work hard and play their games with joy, determination and guts — exhibit #1 is the 2012 Washington Nationals baseball team.
I nominate the people who work at the Make A Wish Foundation and Veterans’ help organizations. I nominate soup kitchen workers, and people who give significant portions of their time to go to impoverished countries to help people there.
I nominate doctors who involve themselves in Doctors without Borders. I nominate firefighters. I nominate first responders.
I nominate people who make mistakes, thereafter look the public, or you, or those affected in the eye and sincerely apologize, and then further have the courage and commitment to change their behavior for the good.
I nominate courage in action.
The Missouri Supreme Court, despite overwhelming opposition from heavily moneyed groups, overturned a twenty-year old bad law, thus allowing juries to have the final say in that state on the issue of civil damages.
I nominate Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for his courageous vote on The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare), in the face of tremendous pressure from Republicans. I nominate governors and state legislatures that have had the courage to propose and pass legislation allowing for gay and lesbian marriage.
Finally, although there are thousands more, I saved the best for last. I nominate my wife.
We now have constant, instant, global transmission of everything, whether it is newsworthy or not, need I mention New Jersey Shore personalities or Honey Boo-Boo?. This means we are constantly exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly.
Because bad news sells, we get more of it and our collective focus points us to the belief that our society is going down the drain. It is not. The sensational bad, despite the personalities, are an infinitesimally small fraction of what goes on locally, nationally and globally that is good.
Role model the good and learn from the disappointments. The law will, hopefully, take care of the crimes.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics.
His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.