Friday, October 19, 2012

Although 34 Percent Of Boy Scouts Nationwide Are Mormon, Only Two Percent Of Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Cases Are Connected To Mormons

By now, most readers know that the media has released the contents of numerous files documenting sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts. The primary media source is the Los Angeles Times, which obtained two decades of files, submitted as evidence in a court case, as well as case summaries from an additional 3,100 files opened between 1947 and 2005. Both were provided by Seattle attorney Timothy Kosnoff, a serial litigator who has sued the Boy Scouts more than 100 times. The dossiers, which included biographical data, legal records, Scouting correspondence, boys' accounts of alleged abuse and media reports, represent all surviving files kept by the Scouts as of January 2005.

The Los Angeles Times account also includes a searchable database and a location map. In the Search box beneath the lower left hand corner of the LA Times map, you can type in a city or a state, and all the entries for the requested location will be displayed beneath. KTVX Channel 4 identified three people who were LDS members at the time they offended; Eric Hacking from Orem, Leroy Harvey Richins from Provo, and Gerald Burgie of Ogden, and in a separate story, reported that Burgie is currently in a Texas prison serving a sentence for child porn. I also discovered a fourth offender who was a Mormon; Kenneth Rarick, who was in Fairbanks, AK in 1982. In response to a KTVX query, LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said, "....the Church has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and is extremely proactive in its efforts to prevent it and help victims when it does occur."

It is because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses Scouting as the primary youth program for boys that attention has been directed toward the Church as well. So LDS blogger Joanna Brooks decided to research the issue to find out if LDS Boy Scout troops had been more or less susceptible to sexual abuse than other troops. And on October 19th, 2012, she published her findings in Religion Dispatches:

Today, a whopping 34 percent of Boy Scout troops nationwide are co-sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But sources who have scrutinized the BSA’s so-called “perversion files” report that fewer than 2 percent of the cases documented therein are connected with Mormons. It is believed that LDS Church may have handled child abuse cases internally rather than reporting them to BSA officials.

Of course, it is also possible that some cases were never reported at all, but merely swept under the rug. Sexual abuse of youth did not receive the public scrutiny 10-20-30 years ago that it gets today. In 1995, the Mormon Alliance published its own findings, which are available through this portal. Nevertheless, Brooks' analysis still shows that LDS Boy Scout troops had disproportionately fewer incidences of sexual abuse than other troops. And while Brooks is a faithful member of the Church, she hardly has a reputation for being a shill or apologist, so her conclusions can be trusted.

LDS Scoutmasters have a greater incentive than most to control their behavior. In addition to facing criminal justice, LDS Scoutmasters who sexually abuse their charges also face Church discipline -- which in this case, most often means excommunication. Then, after they return, their records are annotated for the rest of their lives, so that they are not placed in positions of unsupervised contact with youths.

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