This book is old news. The BSA (Boy Scout's of America) has been on the ropes for sometime. I have read and written about The Roman Catholic Church ands its decades long struggle with priest's raping boys. By "struggle" I mean its ongoing efforts to bury the story, keep its money, and protect the perpetrators. But a priest only get s unsupervised access to boys for perhaps half a day, whereas a scout leader gets them for entire weekends. The BSA makes the RCC look like novices.
The book is written chronologically, each chapter moving ahead by a month or a year. Intertwined with that account is the story of Carl Bittenbender, a serial abuser, and Cindy Corbett, the mother of one of Carl's victims.
Carl was court martialed out of the military but had no trouble getting a gig as Scout Master. He was charged with molestation, and still had no trouble getting another Scout Master job. No one checked. They thought this sort of thing happens to other communities. They thought that the BSA kept records, so they would catch pedophiles. The BSA did keep records, but they were "confidential" and using them could create law trouble. The parents were happy to have the kids out of the house.
But BSA leaders wanted none of it. Checking people out costs money. They did keep files, but they would never look at them. Why? Because then they might actually know the answer to questions like "How many records of sexual abuse does the BSA get per year?" One person said "I do not know how many we get per year, but it is miniscule." Think about that answer. It is self contradictory.
Pedos are smart. They can spot a possible target, perhaps a troubled looking kid, or a loner, with a quick glance around a room full of boys. They are persuasive. They work their victims slowly. They can use pot and beer to gain control ("We would not want your parents to know about this, so say nothing!").
There was always a reason why it was not the BSA's fault, or that the BSA could not afford to do this or that. When the BSA would estimate x number of assaults per year, they real number was en times that. Other organizations like Big Brothers knew better and ran criminal checks on all their adults.
In one case, a monk (Brother Edmund) abused a boy who ultimately killed himself. Law suits followed, and two years later, he was banned by the BSA. By 1982, a Scout Leader was being banned every eleven days. The BSA issued a warning to its boys about mutual masturbation, saying it as wrong. They offered no such warning if an adult was involved.
One abuser was kicked out, only to let back in when a psychologist said he was cured. He re-abused.
If this book contains one message, it is that abusers cannot be cured. They need regular treatment for life. I have a lot of disdain for clinical psychology in the 80s and 90ss, but I am given to understand that the science behind it has improved a great deal since.
Carl, after years of abusing boys, was finally jailed for 30 years. He got out after 20, and died a few years later.
By the end of the eighties, the BSA was under attack. Law suits and outrage were the harvest from years of deliberate ignorance and general all-round lying.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.