Utah Boy Scouts Face Challenges: Mirrors National Scout Situation

Boy Scout Money

2015 has been a tough year for the Boy Scouts in southern Utah. A story in The Spectrum reports that the Scouts’ revenue in the area is down from $300,000 to $400,000 – a 4% shortfall. According to the report, revenue is down because of the Scouts’ uneven handling of how to include gays in scouting, as well as the continued problem of Boy Scout sexual abuse.

Like most institutions of public trust, the mishandling of child safety issues has led to a decrease in public confidence and a wariness on the part of concerned parents. It doesn’t help the Scout image when recent sexual abuse lawsuits like ours in Idaho, Montana, and Oregon highlight cover-ups and a disregard for the safety of children.

These issues aren’t solved by Scout leaders proclaiming everything is rosy. The Boy Scouts have a public relations problem precisely because too many children have been sexually abused by Scout leaders and the organization has been slow or unwilling to acknowledge the scope of the problem.

As recently as last year, James Terry, BSA’s former CFO and the former chair of BSA’s Youth Protection Committee from 2005 to 2013 testified that he had no idea how many adults were banned from scouting for sexually molesting children. He said he had “no sense of that at all” because “it was meaningless to me, so I couldn’t begin to estimate how many.”

How could it be “meaningless” for the Chair of the Boy Scout’s Youth Safety Committee to know how many adult volunteers had sexually abused Scouts? He went on to testify that he had no idea how many Scouts had been sexually abused in scouting.

Until the sexual abuse of Scouts becomes meaningful for the Boy Scouts, and until the organization comes clean on the full scope of its historical problem, BSA will continue to lose public trust and support.

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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