Despite past assurances that it had alerted authorities to every instance of possible abuse within its ranks, Scouts Canada says a new review has found at least 65 cases where that did not happen.
Thirteen of those cases occurred after 1992, when laws changed to require reporting to police. In a further 64 files, it was unclear whether information was shared with police, the youth organization said Monday.
All those cases have now been reported to authorities, Scouts Canada assured.
Overall, Scouts Canada had auditing firm KPMG examine 486 records from 1947 to 2011 where scouting leaders were suspended or terminated on allegations of misconduct against children and youth. The final tally found that in 73 per cent of cases, “police authorities were aware of incidents of abuse, either with Scouts Canada alerting authorities or the authorities alerting Scouts Canada.”
The organization’s chief commissioner, Steve Kent, said that’s “not a number that I’m particularly happy with.”
“Any instances where things were not reported to authorities in a timely fashion — any instances are unacceptable,” he said Monday.
CBC investigation prompted audit
Scouts Canada released the findings of the forensic review of its suspension and termination records over the past 64 years following CBC’s Fifth Estate investigation into how the organization dealt with past cases of sexual abuse.
Kent says the review nevertheless “found no systemic intent to cover up or hide incidents of abuse,” though it did uncover cases where the youth organization did not handle incidents “with the rigour we would expect.”
“Bad things happened in the past in many organizations. Scouts Canada, unfortunately, is no exception,” Kent said. “We invested considerable time and money to ensure that no stone was left unturned.”
Scouts Canada also unveiled an updated framework for child and youth protection. Elements include new policies on bullying, abuse reporting and screening of volunteers. The organization said one of the steps it will take is to flag anyone who doesn’t complete its volunteer screening in its central database so that they can’t partake in any scouting activities.
In 2011, The Fifth Estate, in a co-investigation with the Los Angeles Times, looked at Scouts Canada’s controversial system for recording the names of pedophiles who had infiltrated its ranks and had been removed from the organization. It was known as the “confidential list.” The investigation followed a public legal battle involving the Boy Scouts of America, which paid out millions in legal settlements.
CBC first reported in October 2011 that Scouts Canada signed out-of-court confidentiality agreements with more than a dozen child sex-abuse victims in recent years.
Two months later, Scouts Canada issued a blanket apology to former scouts who were sexually abused by leaders. It also said at the time that it had 350 confidential files that it turned over, not to police, but to KPMG for its forensic review. The organization subsequently found 136 more dossiers that it handed to KPMG.
However, the apology maintained “that every record of abuse has been handled properly and shared with police.”
In February, Scouts Canada’s Kent acknowledged that his organization did not report all allegations of sexual abuse to police in past decades, contrary to its previous denials.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, an Oregon court approved the release of so-called perversion files compiled by the Boy Scouts of America on suspected child molesters within the organization over two decades, giving the public its first chance to review the files on 1,200 people.
The files, gathered from 1965 to 1985, came to light when they were used as evidence in a landmark Oregon ruling in 2010 that the Boy Scouts of America had failed to protect a plaintiff who had been molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s. The U.S. scouting organization was ordered to pay the man $18.5 million US.