More than 82,000 alleged victims. Decades of sexual abuse. Thousands of lawsuits.
These numbers define history’s largest case of sexual abuse connected to one organization: the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Netflix’s new documentary, “Scout’s Honor: The Secrets of the Boy Scouts of America,” uncovers details surrounding these cases and includes personal accounts from victims, as well as those representing them legally—including Hurley McKenna & Mertz.
Below, we share some of the top takeaways from this project and what you can do if you’re a victim of sexual abuse.
1. This Is The Largest Case of Sexual Abuse Tied to a Single Organization
According to the documentary, the thousands of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Boy Scouts of America make this history’s largest case of sexual abuse connected to one organization, outnumbering those against even the Catholic Church or Mormon Church.
To further complicate matters, the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, marking one of the most complex bankruptcies of all time because of its numerous entities and policies, including the national BSA council, more than 200 local BSA councils, and thousands of chartering organizations and insurance companies with policies that span over decades.
2. Sexual Abuse Dates Back to the Earliest Days of the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America was founded in England in 1908, and instances of sexual abuse have been recorded since the organization’s earliest days. In fact, a doctor had been kicked out of the very first Boy Scout camp in the world, which took place in Essex, England, for alleged molestation.
Plus, in a 1923 issue of Scouting Magazine, scouts had even written about individuals who had been kicked out of the organization, warning others to stay away from them and further proving the organization’s awareness of the issue.
3. The Boy Scouts Maintained a Confidential List of Offenders
Throughout time, the Boy Scouts maintained a record of offenders on what is known in the United States as the Red Flag List, which eventually evolved into what is known as the Ineligible Volunteer File. Also known as the Confidential Files or Perversion Files, this list was meant to remain confidential within the organization.
“The Confidential Files, as they’re known, really began back in England, right at the beginning,” said Patrick Boyle, journalist and author of the book “Scout’s Honor.” “Soon after the Scouts were founded in England in 1908, the Scouts there realized they had a problem because scouting has always attracted men who are attracted to boys. The struggle for the company has been to keep them out and keep it quiet.”
4. The Boy Scouts “Made it Easy” for Offenders
Hurley McKenna & Mertz is representing 4,000 BSA survivors, several of whom fell victim to notorious BSA serial pedophiles like Thomas Hacker. Hacker, for example, would abuse children, get caught, and move to another city or group unpunished or reported, where the cycle would begin again. Hacker was also included in the BSA’s files but never prevented from joining another troop.
“The extent of notice that the Scouting organization had as to his propensity to molest boys was off the charts,” said HMM Founding Partner Chris Hurley, who interrogated Hacker during a 2014 discovery deposition at the Big Muddy River Correctional Center in Illinois. “My question to him is ‘Why did you choose the Boy Scouts?’ and he said, ‘Because they made it so easy.’ They did nothing to put up barriers for him, and he knew it, and he used it.”
Hacker was only one of thousands of abusers who took advantage of the scouts, many of whom were repeat offenders due to the organization’s lack of transparency and refusal to reprimand known abusers.
5. The Boy Scouts Were Connected to Various Religions
The BSA was also involved with the Mormon, Catholic, Islamic, and Jewish churches, where the organization served as a youth outreach program. Of note, the Mormon Church and BSA harbored a long-standing, 105-year relationship. During this time, both parties ignored instances of sexual abuse within or across their organizations.
The Mormon Church eventually ended its relationship with the BSA in 2018 because of its decision to allow homosexual and transgender troop leaders.
Get Justice for the Sexual Abuse Taken Against You
While the deadline to file a claim against the Boy Scouts of America has passed, it’s not too late to get justice for the devastating acts committed against you. Whether you’re a victim of the Catholic Church, Mormon Church, or another organization, our team would be honored to fight for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.