"Trail of Betrayal” is a joint project from Scripps broadcast, print and digital journalists based in Washington, D.C. Over six months, the Scripps National Investigative team researched and reported on a portion of the Boy Scouts of America's confidential files. The files were designed as a way to protect scouts. It was created to keep individuals out of scouting that Boy Scouts of America deemed "ineligible” to serve. Most individuals on the list were Scout leaders accused of molesting children.
The files, which span the period from 1970 to 1991, were obtained through a court-ordered release of the records and with the help of KGTV, our Scripps station in San Diego, Calif.
Team members examined 1,881 files and their collective 30,000 pages for details, building a statistical database tracking incidents, accusations, arrests, convictions and the number of alleged Scout victims and perpetrators. Recently, many variations of the confidential files have been released and media outlets are beginning to review them.
The Scripps National Investigative Team reviewed each page to showcase the pure magnitude of victims, offenders and failures within the Scouts system that reach from coast to coast.
Using the files, court documents, newspaper articles and internet-based research tools, Scripps journalists traveled coast to coast to find Scout victims, former Scout officials and convicted pedophiles.
The resulting three-day series reveals how the iconic youth organization betrayed the American public's trust after being trusted with the nation's youth. The series will air in all 13 of our Scripps broadcast markets and newspapers with a reach from coast to coast. The series will be showcased on all 26 of our websites to provide online users a fully immersive interactive experience to explore our findings.
Part 1 reveals the number of alleged Scouting offenders and victims listed in the files we reviewed from 1970-1991. It also shows how the organization responded to Scouts' cries for help, promised some offenders confidentiality and sometimes suppressed information. Victims were identified and interviewed across the country and many speak out for the first time. National Investigative Correspondent, Jim Osman conducted an exclusive interview with Boy Scouts of America to get answers.
Part 2 exposes how the Boy Scouts' internal reporting problems created opportunities for offenders to rejoin Scouting -- and how the organization protected its image, sometimes at victims' expense. Our investigation focuses on systematic problems including poor background checks and suspected molesters that were able to move from troop to troop. Our team tracks down the man responsible for the confidential files. National Investigative Correspondent Jim Osman continues his interview with Boy Scout President, Wayne Perry to get answers.
Part 3 looks at present-day Scouting. The organization has toughened its youth-protection policies, but they're not always followed -- so some problems persist. An abused Scout later became a Scout leader for his sons' troop -- but then resigned and removed his kids from the organization because he feared for their safety. Boy Scout President Wayne Perry comments on where things stand in scouts today.
Thank you for exploring this "Trail of Betrayal.” It's a project created by experienced journalists out of care and concern for the BSA and especially for Boy Scouts and other youths. We hope you find it informative.