By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
Twenty reports of alleged sexual abuse in Mississippi’s Boy Scouts of America units came to light Thursday with an online national “perversion file” disclosure.
None came from Northeast Mississippi, although the 15,000 pages of documents detail accusations against 1,247 Scout leaders between 1959 and 1985, with a handful from later years.
“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in,” said Rick Chapman, Scout executive for the region’s Yocona Area Council of BSA.
The 12-county council’s leaders have a renewed focus on creating a safe environment for their youths, he said.
“That’s the starting point and it’s our commitment to offer a safe place for them to learn everything Scouting has to offer,” he said one day after release of the national sex-abuse documents.
Decades of BSA sexual abuse were revealed for the first time Thursday because of an Oregon Supreme Court decision, responding to a 2010 civil lawsuit against the Scouts.
“The secrets are out,” the New York Times quoted Oregon attorney Kelly Clark, whose firm obtained the files as evidence in an $18.5 million civil judgment in the case.
Scouting officials fought in court for years to prevent the release of the documents, reportedly referred to in-house as the “perversion files.”
In the massive database including Mississippi’s 20 reported incidents, only one of this state’s alleged perpetrators was listed – a Louisiana man, Steve Allen Adams, convicted of sexual battery while volunteering at a Kiln Scout camp.
Not made public were any relatively recent accusations, although it’s public record that at least one person is under indictment in Lee County charged with fondling a young Scout during the summer of 2010. He’s scheduled to go on trial soon.
Mississippi Scouting sex-abuse reports, listed from 1958 to 2003, were for units in Belzoni (Unit 91), Biloxi (211, 213, 214, 250, 219), Cleveland (23), Columbia (6078), Columbus (3), Greenwood (460), Hattiesburg (116), Hazlehurst (no unit number), Hernando (741), Indianola (41), Long Beach (321), Meridian (42), Olive Branch (234), Star (82) and Vicksburg (76).
Other than the Adams document, none of the listings show anything but an identification number for the accused person and the Scout unit numbers.
But the report shows the same ID number for three alleged incidents in 1987 in Greenwood, Cleveland and Hazlehurst, and two other numbers for two in 1989 and three in 1958 in Biloxi.
Wayne Perry, BSA national president, told the New York Times in a telephone interview this week, “We definitely fell short – for that we just have to apologize to the victims and the parents and say that we’re profoundly sorry.”
While Yocona’s Chapman says BSA trains its parents, volunteers and youth to be aware of threats like this, “you have to be on guard of it and never turn a blind eye to it.”
Daily Journal reporter JB Clarkcontributed to this report.