Boy Scouts 'perversion files' made public
Over the years, the mandatory reporting of suspicions of child abuse by certain professionals would take hold nationally. Each state had its own law, and the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act passed in 1974.
The Scouts, however, wouldn't institute mandatory reporting for suspected child abuse until 2010. They did incorporate other measures, such as a "two-deep" requirement that children be accompanied by at least two adults at all times, and made strides in their efforts to combat pedophilia within their ranks.
According to an analysis of the Scouts' confidential files by Patrick Boyle, a journalist who was the first to expose about efforts by the BSA to hide the extent of sex abuse among Boy Scout leaders, the Scouts documented internally less than 50 cases per year of Scout abuse by adults until 1983, when the reports began to climb, peaking at nearly 200 in 1989.
Attitudes on child sex abuse began to change after the 1974 law, said University of Houston professor Monit Cheung, a former social worker who has authored a book on child sex abuse.
"Before 1974, you could talk to a social worker who could (then) talk to a molester and that could maybe stop abuse," Cheung said, noting that most abuse happens within families.
But mandatory reporting made the failure to report suspected abuse a crime.
"That's the change, that you're no longer hiding the facts of abuse," Cheung said.
The case of Timothy Bagshaw in State College, Pa., is illustrative of the changing national attitude to mandatory reporting. Bagshaw, a Scouts leader, was convicted of two counts of corruption of minors in 1985. But he wasn't the only one to face charges.
The Scouts learned of the abuse months before it was reported, and forced Bagshaw to resign at a meeting, but he wasn't reported to police. That failure was costly for Juanita Valley Council director Roger W. Rauch, who was charged with failure to notify authorities of suspected child abuse.
"I didn't know I was supposed to contact anyone. I felt it was the parents' responsibility," Rauch told the Centre Daily Times in 1984. "We acted very responsibly.
"I'm concerned that this not get blown out of proportion."
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