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Tax-Exempt Boy Scouts Hide ‘Morally Straight’ Pedophiles in Plain Sight

(Photo: Daniel M. Reck / Flickr)

Part of the Series

While the Scouts have spent years hiding their pedophiles in the name of protecting their reputation, they were also launching a decades-long fight to keep gay scouts and leaders from being in their troops. This duplicity has all been supported with our tax dollars.

This news story in the Los Angeles Times caught my eye recently:

‘Boy Scouts helped alleged molesters cover tracks, files show’

Over two decades, the Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public. A Los Angeles Times review of 1600 confidential files dating from 1970 to 1991 has found that Scouting officials frequently urged admitted offenders to quietly resign – and helped many cover their tracks.

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Volunteers and employees suspected of abuse were allowed to leave, citing bogus reasons such as business demands, “chronic brain dysfunction” and duties at a Shakespeare festival.

The story was the second the Los Angeles Times had written on this subject, having released their first set of files in a story that ran in August.

The two accounts have story after story of disgusting tales of how the Boy Scouts kept files on known pedophiles and allowed many of them to continue or get back into Scouting, while not reporting them to the police. The Boy Scouts’ national council claims it has gotten the situation under control and has instituted new measures to prevent this sad history from repeating itself. I am not so sure.

I was a scout mom. I married an Eagle Scout who later served as a scout leader in my son’s troop, and my son became a Life Scout and was troop leader for his troop for a year.

I went to the ceremonies and got pinned as my son reached each level of Scouting. I served as a volunteer merit badge counselor for years, even after my son had left the troops, and taught for badges in Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World.

Since these were required merit badges, I got a lot of scouts in groups of six or seven. I dutifully taught them about our civic institutions according to the merit badge worksheet, while also teaching them to question those institutions with the also-patriotic mind of an investigative reporter. It was fun and I taught over 50 scouts.

Then several years ago, when molestation concerns for the Boy Scouts’ leaders started to get national attention, the Boy Scouts’ national council had all leaders, including merit badge leaders, take a course in recognizing the signs of molestation and required all leaders and volunteers to pass a criminal background check.

You could do it all online so I registered myself and took the exam. I felt at the time that the test was not very good and certainly would not have helped in identifying molesters or outing me if I was one. I easily passed the test and printed out my certificate.

However, for the next year, the Boy Scouts kept telling me that I had not done the requirements. At first the local council just asked me to fax my certificate but the national council kept messing it up until I was asked to take the test again. I did it again and then spent the next few months again trying to prove to them that I had retaken the test and faxed and faxed my certificate.

I was very frustrated because I don’t have a common name. When they asked me to take the test again, I turned them down out of sheer frustration and gave up the great fun I had teaching for the civic merit badges. Until I saw the Los Angles Times article this weekend, I wondered how they could have such a messed up system and how they could really keep track of the true pedophiles.

What I didn’t know was that they had a main file for abusers that they hid from authorities and parents, while allowing some of their worst abusers to rejoin as scout leaders, only to molest again and again. It reminded me of how the Catholic Church got away with hiding and passing their pedophile priests on to unsuspecting parishes in order to hide the shame and controversy from their parishioners.

The Times stories questioned if this is still going on in the Scouts, because recent records have not been released. The Boy Scouts are resisting releasing more while they claim that they have the situation under control. The extensive archive at the Los Angeles Times web site, showing the documentation of the organization hiding pedophiles year after year is sickening to read through.

The whole irony is that while the Boy Scouts were – or are – for years, hiding their pedophiles in the name of protecting their reputation, they were also launching a decades-long fight to keep gay scouts and leaders from being in their troops. They claimed that it went against their oath of being “morally straight.”

In 2000 they won the right to keep all gays out of their organization. They recently revisited the issue and in July of this year once again decided to keep all gays out of Scouting. (My son’s troop quietly ignored the gay ban and let anyone in.)

It isn’t hard to find evidence that they keep at this rejection of gay scouts and leaders because of the age-old myth that pedophiles are mainly homosexuals. Mitt Romney has surprisingly stood for allowing gay scouts and gay leaders for 20 years and didn’t change his stance for this campaign as of August of this year. (Is this a record for him for standing firm on anything since his run for Senate in Massachusetts?)

Conservative religious groups have pilloried him, including conservative commentator Bryan Fischer. According to a right-wing newsletter called the New American, this was given as the reason for keeping gays out of Scouting:

Fischer emphasized the untenable moral nature of Romney’s stand, noting that abundant research proves homosexual men very often sexually target boys the age of those participating in Boy Scouts and its junior program, Cub Scouts. ‘Gov. Romney’s position, if adopted by the BSA, would put the sexual innocence of untold numbers of young boys at risk,’ Fischer wrote. ‘It is truly an unconscionable position for a self-described ‘severely conservative’ candidate to take, particularly in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.’

Study after study shows that homosexuals make up only a small portion of pedophiles. According to a study called the Abel & Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study published in 2001, the typical pedophile is religious, white and straight with little sexual interest in adult men:

These findings are in direct opposition to the generally accepted opinion that the overwhelming majority of men who molest boys are homosexual. The majority of men who molest boys (70 percent) are predominantly heterosexual. In general, that large number parallels the number of men in the US population (85 percent) who have reported that they are predominantly heterosexual.

In 2000, the Boy Scouts’ national council put out a totally ironic statement that was their version of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to try to quiet the controversy by saying, “Boy Scouting makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person.”

I guess they weren’t trying to find out the sexual orientation of their pedophiles while they hid the ones that they knew and passed them off to other unsuspecting Boy Scout troops. So much controversy over being gay while hiding their “morally straight” pedophiles.

Because the Scouts’ national council is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, tax deductible organization: This has all been done with our tax dollars. Our government is allowing this organization to get contributions that would have otherwise been taxed, so the federal government is tacitly supporting this organization’s behavior.

Churches also get this designation but I believe that it would be skirting First Amendment rights for churches to be forced to admit people that they don’t want unless is it is on race. (The Mormon church almost lost its nonprofit status in 1978 for not allowing male black priests, until they had a revelation and changed their policy.) But while the Boy Scouts insist on believing in God, they accept all religions including Wicca and Native American religions.

But our tax money is supporting an organization that is not a unique religion but is being allowed to criminally hide pedophiles from law enforcement and the unsuspecting public. Since the Boy Scouts are up there with mom and apple pie, it would be hard for the IRS to crack down on their criminal behavior and their exclusion.

But along with the recent court ruling allowing tax deductible nonprofit “social welfare” organizations to do blatant election politics, we need to rethink our rules on this and either change the tax deductible laws, or force the IRS to enforce their own rules on these politically sensitive but out-of-control tax deductible organizations. (I wrote a Solutions column on non-profit abuse and elections.)

Maybe after the election, there will be a move to look at the election abuses of these organizations, but I say that we also look at ones, like the Boy Scouts, who systematically broke the law for decades and still may be at it.

A suspension of their tax deductible status and a probationary term to get their act together might wake them up, especially since the chief scout executive in the country makes over $1 million a year.

Organizations like the Boy Scouts have gotten away with criminal activity for too long. If you don’t believe me, just look at this one of many examples that is laid out in the Los Angeles Times article

which ironically pulls in a pedophile from the Catholic Church:

At a Rhode Island Boy Scout camp in 1971, a scoutmaster discovered a 12-year-old boy performing oral sex on an assistant troop leader, William Lazzareschi, behind a tent.

‘Mr. Lazzareschi made me do it to him,’ the young Scout told officials, according to the file.

Lazzareschi ‘admitted his role in the act’ and said he’d never done it before, the file states. He was expelled from Scouting and told to stay away from the boy. Nothing in the file indicates the Scouts called police.

The records do show that the boy was counseled ‘with positive results’ by the Rev. Edmond C. Micarelli, the camp’s Catholic chaplain.

‘Upon Father Micarelli’s recommendation, the parents were not notified,’ a report states.

Micarelli’s reasoning was not explained. But in 1990, he also wound up on the blacklist after a man told a Scouting official that the priest had raped him and his younger brother as boys. In 2002, the Diocese of Providence paid $13.5 million to 36 victims who sued Micarelli and 10 other priests, alleging sex abuse dating to at least 1975.

Lazzareschi was convicted of sexual assault in 1997 and possession of child pornography in 2005, but he is no longer in prison, state records show. Neither he nor Micarelli, who retired to Florida more than 20 years ago, could be reached for comment.

There are hundreds of stories like this one. Our federal government should not be subsidizing an organization that has covered this up for years while excluding “morally straight” gay men and boys from participating in an organization that my son and husband enjoyed so much.

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