Sunday, March 28, 2010

Boy Scouts followed in the footsteps of the Catholic Church

Just like the Catholic Church and the Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network: Don't tell and protect the pedophile at all costs.

A specialist on sex abuse told a Portland jury Wednesday that the Boy Scouts of America knew more than any other organization about offenders within their own ranks but failed to inform parents -- or go to law enforcement -- to prevent more boys from being abused.

"They realized they had a problem, and they created a system to deal with it," said Gary Schoener, a certified psychologist in Minnesota who has advised churches and other nonprofits nationwide about the abuse of authority. "You don't create a system if you don't have a problem."

That system involved detailed "perversion" files on Scouting leaders who were kicked out of the Boy Scouts for committing abuse. The aim was to keep offenders out of Scouting, but the files were kept confidential and in some cases were destroyed.

The files form the foundation of a civil liability lawsuit brought by a 37-year-old man against the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America and its local organization, Cascade Pacific Council in Oregon. The man, known as Jack Doe in court documents, is seeking $14 million in damages over abuse by former Portland Scout leader Timur Dykes, who is a convicted sex offender.

Doe testified about his relationship with Dykes on Wednesday. He said he took part in more than 20 sleepovers at Dykes' apartment, where boys would work on their merit badges and then play Dungeons & Dragons -- a game Doe's parents had forbidden. The Scout leader, who sometimes had Doe over alone, let the boys stay up late, and make as much noise as they wanted. In the morning, he fed them french fries for breakfast.

Doe said the boys slept in different places, such as a couch or even the floor, but he always slept in Dykes' bed.

"It was like my spot," he said. "It was where I went to bed every time."

On four occasions, he woke up and found himself on top of Dykes, who was aroused.

He said he knew it wasn't right, kept his eyes closed pretending to be asleep and rolled off him.

The two never discussed it.

On a fifth occasion, Dykes abused Doe while looking after the boy and his siblings in their own home. They were sitting on a couch -- alone -- and Dykes took the boy's hand and forced it up his leg under his shorts to his genitals.

The boy drew his hand away.

That was not long before July 1984, when police pulled Dykes over in a van while taking Doe and other boys on a trip to Tillamook. The officer, realizing that Dykes was a sex offender and was not supposed to be around minors, arrested him and took the boys to the police station. After his parents arrived and they asked him if he had been abused, he said no.

"I didn't want to be a disappointment to my parents," he said. "I was embarrassed."

Schoener said Dykes' ability to curry favor with the boy was typical of many offenders outlined in the Boy Scout files, which he characterized as "extraordinary."

"To my knowledge no one had this kind of databank," he said.

He said the hundreds of confidential files that he had read -- more than 1,100 are included in the case -- taught the Boy Scouts common patterns of who was committing the abuse, how it occurred and how the abusers often tried to sneak back into the organization after being kicked out.

Yet, the Boy Scouts did not tell parents about offenders so they could protect their kids, Schoener said. "All of the parents have a right to know," he said.

Schoener was also critical of the organization for not educating sponsors, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Portland, about potential sex abuse and for not seeking out law enforcement.

"You fell short," he said of the Boy Scouts. "You did the right thing by keeping the files. You just didn't use them effectively."

Paul Xochihua, a lawyer representing the Cascade Pacific Council, said that the files showed an average of about 50 abuse cases a year between 1966 and 1985. He said there were perhaps 1 million Scouting leaders at that time, indicating that the actual rate of abuse was small.

Xochihua also stressed that the abuse in this case did not take place during regular Scouting activities but happened mostly on weekends and in Dykes' apartment.

The trial resumes on Monday and is expected to last two more weeks.

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