Top administrators at the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America are publicly admitting failures on the part of the organization in its past to protect some children from child sex abusers.
Volunteer CEO Wayne Perry addressed the issue publicly for the first time in a series of one on one media interviews on Monday. He apologized for the organizations decisions in the past to keep so-called "ineligible volunteer files" confidential.
"I would ask parents to look at the programs we have and then judge us versus, maybe not the past, but judge where we are today and certainly judge us against any other youth service organization in the world and they will see that your kids are very very safe," said Perry.
Those files, detail information about potential pedophiles who were either volunteers with the BSA or seeking to work with the organization in some capacity. The existence of the files came to light publicly as the result of a lawsuit filed in Oregon, if not for that, Perry acknowledges the BSA would not be speaking about the files.
Twelve-hundred individual files on potential child abusers, and some 20-thousand pages of information spanning 20 years from 1965 to 1985 will be released on Thursday.
The BSA said the files have always been part of their registration process, and the specific files in question, were being actively investigated by police. But, because of confidentiality, some of those files were never brought to the attention of police which may have resulted in some children being violated.
Perry and the BSA's Director of Youth Protection, Mike Johnson both expressed regret and promised that issues of the past are not a reflection of today's BSA. "I am appalled at the actions of these child molesters and what they did to these children," said Johnson. "I'm disappointed at the mistakes that were made by some volunteers and parents."
Youth protection is mentioned on the first page of the BSA handbook and Perry invited scrutiny of the BSA's record over the last year saying that the organization is likely safer for children than many homes.
Since the 1990's the BSA has had a policy of reporting all suspected cases of child abuse or information about potential pedophiles to police whether a specific state mandates reporting by law or not. According to the BSA, the currently scandal regarding the files has not resulted in fewer people seeking to become volunteers or fewer children registering to become Boy Scouts.
"I'm heartened by some of the information we have in the files, that in some places we were able to protect kids," said Johnson.