Nonprofit Newswire | Jury Deems Boy Scouts Negligent in Handling Sex Abuse

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April 13, 2010; Youth Today | An Oregon jury yesterday found the local Boy Scouts council negligent and responsible for how it handled a Scout leader who abused several scouts over a period of years. More importantly, the jury also found the national Boy Scouts of America negligent, responsible, and culpable. The jury ordered the local council and the BSA to pay $1.4 million in damages.  Now the jury is considering the punitive penalty that will be assessed on the Boy Scouts local and national, to be as much as $25 million. Youth Today’s Patrick Boyle, who has written extensively about the Boy Scouts of America’s failure to deal with sexual abusers in the ranks of scout leaders, says that the impact of the case isn’t the money. The BSA’s brand faces big time damage. But there are broader implications.  If a national organization can be held responsible for a pattern of sexual abuse by employees of a local chapter, it’s easy to see how this principle can be applied to another, ongoing situation where a national network is charged with covering up sexual abuse—the Roman Catholic Church.—Rick Cohen

  • Christa Klein

    Would that the Scouts, other non profits, and our public education system do as much as the United States Catholic Bishops, all dioceses, and parishes have done since 2002 (and many prior to that) to ensure the safety of children and young people from sexual harrassment and predators. This kind of Catholic baiting is deeply offensive and not worthy of the NPQ. You know better.

  • rick cohen

    Thanks for the comment. The reference to the implications for the Catholic Church was in several of the articles we reviewed, actually, including the Youth Today article. When I mentioned this item to a friend of mine who is Catholic, I received a volley of reaction that was in the other direction, aimed at the Pope or, that is, his activities when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. This issue is obviously one where people differ very very strongly. We’d love to hear how other Nonprofit Quarterly readers feel.

  • Linda Jones

    I think your connection of the possible ramifications of abusive behavior in a local nonprofit organization on its “mother” organization with the Catholic Church is valid. There are similarities: a governing framework in which the local organizations are supposed to function; code of conduct and a responsibility to its constituents. Also, keeping in mind that as nonprofit organizations, and they both are, the social contract that the national (BSA) or head (the Pope) and its affiliates (local troop and parishes)have with community come with expectations that those served will be secure and protected.