Scouts defend 'youth protection training' programme in $25m sex abuse
A Boy Scouts of America executive yesterday told a
jury considering whether to award $25million in punitive damages in a sex abuse
lawsuit that a prevention programme was developed in the 1980s, although it
still is not mandatory for Scout leaders.
The Scouts called James Terry as a witness in the
punitive damages phase of the trial after the jury awarded $1.4million in
compensatory damages last week to an Oregon man abused by a former assistant
Scoutmaster in the early 1980s.
Mr Terry, the chief financial officer for the
Scouts at its headquarters in Irving, Texas, also chairs its committee on
'youth protection training'.
He went over the details of the training programme,
adding that the Scouts had consulted experts in the field of child sex abuse to
help develop the guidelines, including a policy of 'two-deep leadership' to
avoid leaving adult volunteers alone with Scouts.
But under cross-examination by a lawyer for victim
Kerry Lewis, Mr Terry said the Scouts have yet to make it mandatory nationally
even though it is strongly recommended to local Scout councils.
The effectiveness of the programme the Scouts
developed after Mr Lewis was abused in 1983 is expected to be a key factor in
how much punitive damages the jury may award.
Attorney Paul Mones asked Mr Terry whether he was
aware there was repeated evidence of abuse by Scout leaders in more than 1,000
files compiled on suspected molesters among adult volunteers from 1965-85 that
were introduced as evidence in the case. 'No sir,' Terry said.
When Mr Mones asked whether if he had ever looked
at the so-called 'ineligible volunteer' files, which he oversees at the Scouts
headquarters in Irving, the reply was the same: 'No sir.'
Mr Terry disputed whether any study and evaluation
of the files would have found meaningful statistical data that would have
contributed to the development of a more effective child abuse prevention
programme by the Scouts.
He said the Scouts have offered inserts in Scouting
manuals warning about the dangers of child abuse, along with training videos
and conferences since the late 1980s. In addition, the Scouts now require
criminal background checks on all applicants to be Scout leaders.
But Mr Mones pointed out none of those materials
identify Scout leaders as potential molesters and instead use generic
situations, such as an overly friendly neighbour or relative, to pose the
When he asked Terry whether the organisation have
ever directly warned parents or children about the risk of abuse by a Scout
leader in their training materials, the reply again was, 'No sir.'
Testimony in the case concluded yesterday with
closing arguments expected this afternoon.
|Liveleak on Facebook|