Relationship Between Mormons and Boy Scouts Lacks Transparency, Accountability

scoutLast summer’s settlement of a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and the Boy Scouts of America involving former Scoutmaster Vance Hein reveals the lack of communication between the two organizations. This is in spite of the fact that the Mormon Church is the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts in the United States. As of 2010, the Church of Latter Day Saints sponsors a lot of Scouts:


• 142,085 Cub Scouts in 10,345 packs;
• 205,990 Boy Scouts in 19,285 troops;
• 64,645 Venturers in 8,298 co-ed crews.

The Boy Scouts of America uses a system it calls it “Ineligible Volunteer Files” to exclude volunteers accused of sexual misconduct with Scouts. However, the official policy of the BSA has always been to not inform sponsoring organizations of the existence of the “IV Files,” does not share information from the files with sponsoring organizations, and does not require that sponsors report accusations of abuse to the BSA. Likewise, the LDS Church apparently has no policy of sharing information it has about child molesters involved in LDS-sponsored Scout units with the BSA.

That the BSA does not share information about its volunteers with such a large sponsor as the Mormon Church is appalling. That the Mormon Church does not pass on information about abusive Scout volunteers in its organization to the Boy Scouts is equally baffling. One would think that both organizations would demand accountability and transparency from each other.

We currently represent 10 men who were sexually exploited and abused by LDS Scout volunteers in Idaho. Over the past several years, we have represented many, many others in cases in Oregon, Washington, and other states. We understand the pain and confusion caused when a trusted adult from a child’s church violates all the rules the child has been taught.

We believe that both the Mormon Church and the BSA failed to protect children in LDS Scouting units by not sharing information about known pedophiles within their organizations. The BSA did not inform the LDS Church of the existence of its Ineligible Volunteer File system and did not require the LDS Church to report accused pedophiles to the BSA. Likewise, the LDS Church had no policy or system for reporting LDS Scout volunteers accused of child molestation to the Boy Scouts, even though it would have been more than reasonable to do so.

By failing to take reasonable steps to coordinate information with each other, both organizations failed the children they were trusted to protect.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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