Action 16 Investigates obtained details of a disturbing list once kept by one of America`s most trusted organizations.
For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America kept a list of volunteers suspected of molesting and abusing children, but until that list was released this week, it stayed private.
A copy shows the Boy Scouts in our area kept secret files on several volunteers.
Boy Scouts and critics alike have called the list, “The Perversion Files.” It’s paperwork on volunteers suspected of molesting and corrupting children they supervised.
“It was the kind of information that should have been used to inform a program of protection for scouts, because it indicated that scouts were at great risk,” said Seattle Attorney Tim Kosnoff, who represents several children claiming to be victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Boy Scout Volunteers and even Scout Masters.
The list reveals 30 case files in Northeast and Central Pennsylvania.
Twenty three of those cases are in Luzerne, Wayne, Lycoming, Columbia, and Schuylkill counties.
“It was a file that protected youth members by making it impossible for people who had done things improper to not be registered,” said Marcel Cinquina, who has worked with the Boy Scouts for 40 years in several areas.
He is now the Executive Director of the Northeast Pennsylvania Boy Scouts, based in Moosic. Nine of the 30 case files kept by the Boy Scouts in the Newswatch 16 viewing area, took place in that region.
Cinquina said the system of screening out deviants was a good one several years ago, when computer background checks were not available.
Examples of where the system appears to have worked: In 1966, a volunteer in Lock Haven was ‘denied registration,’ which means turned away from volunteering for another troop in Pennsylvania in 1969, and again in New Jersey in 1972.
In Wilkes-Barre in 1992, someone suspected of wrongdoing was later rejected by scout troops in Avoca and Buffalo, New York.
“I think it was pretty effective,” added Cinquina.
Critics counter the list had little effect in many cases.
Scout leader James Kuhn of Honesdale didn’t make the list until after he was arrested in 2000 for molesting a scout. He was convicted, sent to prison, and did not get out until six years later after Boy Scouts no longer used the list.
“It`s such an easy system for molesters to defeat,” said Kosnoff, who added, many files do not show evidence that scouts even contacted police after suspecting volunteers of unsavory activity.
Among the local examples from the file, in Shenandoah in 1982, files show a scout leader accused of indecent sexual contact with three juveniles.
Another file of a former volunteer in southern Luzerne County reads the man ended up, “committing himself to psychiatric treatment after admitting he had sexual activity and molested a youth member of a boy scout troop.”
Cinquina said the Boy Scouts had reason not to publicly release information about the files.
“We kept it primarily in the Boy Scouts to protect the youth members that were involved in the situations,” said Cinquina.
Cinquina added the Boy Scouts have made scouting safer from abusers in recent years, scrapping the internal list in 2005 in favor of forcing those who want to be volunteers, to pay for their own background checks.
As a result, he said parents should no longer have concerns about letting their sons become Scouts.
Meantime, more details from the national list are expected to be released to the public later this year after names of victims are removed.