Perversion threatens every youth group

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: October 30 2012 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 2:43 am in

The Gazette Editorial Board

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The revelation that the Boy Scouts of America kept thousands of files on more than 1,200 suspected child molesters associated with their organization from the 1960s through 1980s is alarming.

That those “Perversion Files” included five Corridor residents should give all area parents pause.

Boy Scouts is only the latest youth organization to have its past dealings with sex offenders scrutinized. This also is just the latest warning that any organization working with young children is a potential magnet for the reprehensible few who would seek to victimize them. None is immune.

The local men included in the Scouts’ “Perversion Files” released by an Oregon law firm earlier this month, show that predators come from every walk of life.

Assistant scoutmaster Richard Lee Pollock, then 38, was a single college student when he was convicted in 1986 of sexually abusing three boys, aged 10 through 13.

Scoutmaster Charles Huettel was married and had four children of his own when he sexually abused an 11-year-old boy. At age 41, he was convicted of lascivious acts with a child in 1981.

Records show a third local man was arrested, but there is no record of charges. Two other local men were neither charged nor convicted of sexual abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America has apologized for its historic response to suspicions of abuse. They have pledged to review the files, which were considered internal, confidential documents, and contact law enforcement about those cases where it appears police were not notified.

Locally, Boy Scout representatives say they’re guarding against potential abuse by educating leaders and implementing policies such as “two-deep leadership” to eliminate opportunities for predators who may slip through the cracks. That’s good.

By screening volunteers and providing safeguards — like transparency and oversight — such organizations can and should make it more difficult for those predators to prey on innocent children.

Parents, too, must be watchful and talk to their children about appropriate boundaries and behavior.

There’s a pattern that has emerged from the past. Organizations — whether they be religious, sports programs or youth groups — too often responded to abuse allegations by trying to cover them up. That can’t happen anymore.

Every group entrusted with the safety of children must cultivate an organizational culture that expects its members to report suspected abuse — not hide or excuse it.

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