Scouts Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America (2023) Movie Script

The values
of the Boy Scouts of America
were taking young men
and giving them a role in life.
It was different. It was a guiding tool.
I thought Scouts
was a great thing. I really did.
It was Norman Rockwell.
It was Mom, Pop, and apple pie.
Memorial Day parades,
and the Scout troops
would be holding the flag.
It was America and patriotism.
To be a Boy Scout
meant something.
It grew into the biggest youth club
in America,
and maybe the most famous
youth club in the world.
Your Scout law commands you
to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful,
friendly, courteous, kind, obedient,
cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.
Pitching tents,
making fires,
cooking things on an open fire,
and just sitting around telling stories.
how to fend for yourself,
learning to cook,
learning to set up a camp,
learning to identify plants...
...and poison ivy especially.
You go to summer camp,
and you learn to shoot a rifle,
and you learn archery,
and you learn how to build a rope bridge,
and you learn life-saving first aid.
Boy Scouts, for me,
just represented the best of America.
But the Boy Scouts
had this dirty little secret.
It was all just veneer
to mask what was
a very dangerous organization.
the Boy Scouts of America,
one of the biggest
youth organizations in the country,
filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Scouts face an onslaught of lawsuits
from men who claimed
they were sexually abused,
sometimes going back decades,
by scoutmasters and other leaders.
More than 82,000
alleged victims span generations.
People need to understand
what happened. What took place.
A day of reckoning
for the Boy Scouts of America.
An American institution
in turmoil.
The Boy Scouts of America
filing for bankruptcy.
This is history's
largest case of child sexual abuse
connected to one organization.
Larger than any other
youth-serving organization,
larger than the Catholic Church,
larger than the Southern Baptist Church.
They wanna know what happened.
They want the truth to come out.
And they want to know who knew what,
when did they know it,
and how did this happen to them?
They don't want to face
the evil that lurks within.
There's a cancer in the Boy Scouts.
This is something I held on
as a secret, even after everything.
Something I never told anybody.
Not even my own children.
I got a text
from one of my children today.
They said, "I wanna let you know
I'm very proud of what you're doing."
"And I know it's not easy,
but, uh, I'm proud of you."
This is a human rights
movement we're talking about today.
A civil rights movement for children
against one of the biggest offenders
in the world, the Boy Scouts of America.
I don't care if I bring
the whole temple down
on everybody's heads.
I will not stand for this.
This is an abomination.
I am Detective Mike,
former detective
of the City of Plano Police Department.
I became a detective,
and I got on the SWAT team
about the same time in '86.
Always investigated
crimes against children.
So, a child- and family-friendly
room like this is where
any police detective or an advocate
for a victim, child or teen,
that has experienced
any type of abuse or sexual abuse,
this is where we sit and talk to them,
interview them.
This is huge, this whole area
for all police departments.
Uh, that commitment to the, you know,
that victim-sensitive
trauma-informed care, uh,
that we provide to families
and victims after they've experienced,
what for many of them is arguably,
the worst, uh, experiences of their life.
For 16 years, I did nothing
but investigate child sexual abuse.
So I've interviewed a lot of kids,
varying ages,
and interrogated a lot of perpetrators,
talked to a lot of parents,
been to a lot of crime scenes,
as well as worked on some things
federally and nationally
with two different administrations.
Before we get
into what happened later,
I mean, just start with when you were
first hired by the Boy Scouts.
You were the youth protection director
at national headquarters.
Uh, why did you decide to take the job?
So I will, uh, you know,
I always ask people when I get asked that,
"Do you want the truth,
or what I was told to say?"
I mean, just... You know, so...
I'm gonna tell you the truth, all right?
- I actually wanna know both.
- You wanna... Okay.
I wanna tell you the truth.
How's that? I can do the truth.
When I started in 2010
as youth protection director
for the Boy Scouts of America,
I was excited.
I was pumped.
I was a little anxious because,
you know, what is it?
This was the first position like this
for any major youth-serving organization,
or any youth-serving organization ever,
especially somebody
with my background and skill sets.
I thought I was going to work
to keep kids safe in a major institution.
The Boy Scouts are, at the national level,
and even at the council level,
all about the brand.
It's a beautiful brand.
Boy Scouts of America
conjures up parades, and apple pie,
American flag, you know, and all that.
And they don't like anything too negative
that's associated with the brand.
So I come in and I say,
"Okay. We're a high-risk organization,"
just as a general discussion point,
because it is.
"What can we do to keep kids safe,
given that we're
a high-risk organization?"
You are a youth-serving organization.
You're the Boy Scouts of America
youth-serving organization. All right?
You have no choice.
You have to be beyond reproach
on something as very basic as that.
What were they telling
you to say?
Oh, that Boy Scouts of America is safe.
That Boy Scouts of America
is the gold standard.
That Boy Scouts of America has a rigorous
application of screening process.
That the Boy Scouts of America
conducts criminal background checks
of all of its leaders.
Uh, you know, that the youth protection
program is better and by far
than any other, uh,
youth-serving organization program.
They wanted you to project
their image of safety.
- Market this image of safety.
- That's not what you were seeing though.
That's totally not what I'm seeing.
I became aware
that they weren't telling me everything.
They were withholding information.
I kind of stumbled
onto the story just out of pure curiosity
as a reporter.
I had read a news brief
in the New York Times back in the '80s
about one Scout leader
being convicted of abusing Scouts.
And I clipped the brief out and put it
in my ideas file that every reporter has,
and I forgot about it.
Then years later,
I was working in Washington
and read in my own newspaper
about a lawsuit in Virginia
in which a boy, who had been molested
by a Scout leader, had sued the Scouts.
And, as a part of that lawsuit,
the Boy Scouts had to turn over
to this... the lawyer for the boy
confidential files about people
who had been kicked out of Scouting
for alleged child molestation.
And I said, "Wow."
I went over to Virginia naively
with one legal pad in my hand
to look at the files.
I figured I'd spend a few hours there.
And I began reading them and taking notes.
And I quickly realized there is a lot more
information here than I even imagined.
I was blown away by opening these files.
Oh, this is from Scouting in 1923.
I've never seen this.
So, these are pages
from Scouting magazine in the 1920s
where the Scouts have actually written
about people kicked out from Scouting.
"Red flag... "There's a headline here.
"Red-flag this man."
"Red-flag this man."
"Warning." Wow.
The Confidential Files, as they're known,
really began back in England
right at the beginning.
Soon after the Scouts
were founded in England in 1908,
the Scouts there realized
they had a problem
because Scouting has always attracted
men who are attracted to boys.
The struggle for the company has been
to keep them out and keep it quiet.
And these efforts started back in England
when they had to kick out the doctor
at the very first
Boy Scout camp in the world.
In the United States, they created,
what they called, the Red Flag List.
There was a Times story in 1935
where they talked about the Red Flag List.
This Red Flag List in the United States
eventually evolved into what they call
the "Ineligible Volunteer File."
But in the Scouts they call it
the Confidential Files,
and for very good reason because they
intended to keep everything confidential.
Some people called it
the "perversion files."
During that time, we didn't know
how many files there were.
I had the 231 original files,
plus I supplemented it
with my own information.
These files were so sensitive
that the Boy Scouts
did everything they could to make sure
that they could not be seen by parents,
by police, by prosecutors,
even by other Scout leaders.
They had it under lock and key
in national headquarters.
And they knew how sensitive this was.
The Boy Scouts knew
that for this product to sell well,
that they had to have the highest
integrity among the Boy Scout leaders.
So, parents were convinced
that when you put your boy
in the hands of the Boy Scouts,
you are handing them over
to the most responsible men,
the most honest men,
the men of the highest integrity.
So, not only was your boy safe,
but these men
were great role models for your child.
I have to suspect part of it
was also strategic.
They didn't want to open this up
because if they started talking
very bluntly about sex abuse in Scouting,
it might scare parents, scare sponsors,
and they didn't need that.
'Cause they were doing fine. The program
was making money, lots of Scouts.
I was just stunned by the fact
that I would talk to Boy Scout officials
about my discoveries in the files,
and I was giving them news.
I knew things about abuse in Scouting
that nobody in Scouting claimed to know.
I knew what your numbers were.
I knew what the patterns were.
I knew where your vulnerabilities were.
They were naive
about sex abuse in general,
but they had essentially
a product defect that they were ignoring.
And it was that this organization
was built in a way
that molesters could get in,
abuse kids and get away with it.
When I first did the story
and said there were 400 cases,
people told me I was making
a big thing out of nothing.
That, really, there's not that many cases.
I got a lot of angry letters
from people saying,
"You're smearing the Boy Scouts
over a problem that's minuscule."
People kept using that word.
"How dare you accuse the Scouts of this.
You're trying to ruin this organization."
You really had to go out on a limb
to make a public accusation
against the Boy Scouts
because you were accusing, usually,
a respected community leader
of what many people would consider
the worst crime imaginable.
But there is a truth there,
and even if it's an inconvenient truth,
I'm gonna get at the truth.
And I ended up being one of the ways
that these files became public.
Every file was stunning
first because of the story that it tells.
But collectively,
they told a different kind of story.
I'll give you an example.
It wasn't unusual for a leader to get
into the Scouts after having been banned.
Thomas Hacker was based
primarily in Illinois.
Our troop,
we did a lot of campouts.
We did a lot of camping.
At the time, it was just, uh, a nice guy
that was taking an interest in me
and wanted to get to know me.
He became a leader, and then ultimately
became our scoutmaster of the troop.
He was deacon of the church.
He was very much so a authoritarian figure
in my life growing up.
It took me until I was in my early 40s
to realize I was a victim,
and I hadn't done something wrong.
That somehow at 10,
I should have known better.
Somehow, at about 11 or 12,
I should have been able to see
what this guy was doing.
Somehow at 13 or 14,
I should have said something.
The touching, it was pretty much
every campout.
There's, you know,
six to eight kids in there,
and everybody's pants down.
It was a tough conversation.
I really didn't tell my parents much.
I gave them enough of what they needed,
but I didn't go into details.
Just feeling...
Like, dude, you... you...
You took my childhood.
You took my... my growing up.
I was so angry.
I was never really good
at controlling my temper.
And just being frustrated and...
punching holes in walls.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank
in Boy Scouts.
It's a pretty big achievement.
And it's just this big ceremony,
at times solemn.
You get dignitaries, state senators,
or the local mayor
come in and give a speech.
- He's there watching this.
- Mm-hmm.
How do you take this award ceremony
and then try to tie it together
with this hidden-in-plain-sight
type of abuse that's going on?
I want to take some of the stigma
away from it, from boys being victims.
I don't care what anybody says,
there's still a very bad stigma
about a boy being a victim
of sexual abuse by another male.
I want to take that stigma away
because it's not the boy's fault.
A South Suburban scoutmaster
is in jail tonight on $500,000 bond,
charged with sexually abusing
three boys in his troop.
Thomas Hacker faces five counts
of aggravated criminal sexual assault.
The boys were members
of a scout troop at an Oak Lawn church.
Hacker began working as a scoutmaster
for the troop eight years ago.
Hacker was,
in fact, in the IV Files.
When he was discovered at the time,
he was the most prolific pedophile
in the history of... maybe of America,
or of the world, honestly.
He... He had molested hundreds of boys.
And they knew that.
And they knew he used
their organization to do that.
He would abuse kids, get caught,
say, "I'll get help."
"Please don't charge me with a crime.
I'll go away." And he'd go away.
And he'd move to another town
or move on to another youth group.
This was full sexual, oral, anal,
sexual abuse on dozens of occasions
for many of them,
and in group settings.
The extent of notice
that the Scouting organization had
as to his propensity
to molest boys was off the charts.
I'd never taken the deposition
of a serial pedophile,
and I didn't know what to expect.
My question to him is,
"Why did you choose the Boy Scouts?"
And he said,
"Because they made it so easy."
They did nothing. They... They did nothing
to put up barriers for him.
And he knew it, and he used it.
We represent 4,000 victims.
The thing I've learned,
from now the bankruptcy
and all the other clients I represent,
is that there are more Hackers out there.
There are more that have managed
not to get caught.
It takes incredible courage for guys
to come forward, and they've... And...
I'm... I'm proud
of every single one of them.
It's not easy, and...
You know, you... you worry...
You know, the burden, you know...
The burden I carry is, you know,
disa... is possibly disappointing them,
so I don't want that.
"Sexual abuse."
Those two words are kind of PG.
It's easy to say.
People are uncomfortable
with sexual abuse.
People don't wanna visualize
that these young men, and now men,
that are on this lawsuit
were having sex with men in their cars,
in tents, at their house.
I say these things,
and I'm not trying
to say 'em to incite you,
but that's what sexual abuse is.
We're talking about these men
who have experienced
or suffered X-rated activities
as children in the Scouting program,
and who are they gonna talk to about it?
They're still grappling
with their own internal experiences,
demons, some of them, with what happened.
My full name is Douglas Kennedy.
I go by Doug.
My father passed away from cancer
when I was 13 months old.
Never knew him.
My mother never remarried.
And this was back in the day
when being a single parent
wasn't as common as it was today.
There were a lot of days
where we didn't really know
where the next meal was gonna come from,
but we were proud.
Eventually, my mother, in the summertime,
got me involved with the YMCA
and working at a YMCA day camp.
Around that same time,
I was pretty active
in... in the Boy Scouts.
It was meaningful to me in my life.
But the Scouting movement as a whole,
it was fun,
and I thought it had the right mission.
I'm quoted in Boys' Life.
"Set the table for lunch."
"'Hamburgers ready in three minutes, '
Doug Kennedy shouted."
And my picture's there.
I can still see... the window.
There's a porch to the lodge.
Bare light bulb light shines through.
I go to sleep like it's any other night.
And I woke up in the middle of the night,
and the camp director had...
pulled the sleeping bag back.
He had pulled my shorts down.
his head was down in my crotch,
and his legs were up
wrapped around my head.
And when I say "wrapped around my head,"
he was naked.
Wrapped around my head,
and I... I could not move.
He was bigger than me, wiry,
strong for his size.
And I remember thinking,
"What's going on?"
Like this is a joke or funny or something.
And then I realize
that he has me in his mouth.
I'm trying to get his legs off
from around my head,
and I can't do it.
It's always about power.
It's a power dynamic.
He has the power over me,
and he knows it on so many levels.
He's my employer.
He's the person who's putting food
on the table, the person my mother trusts.
He's the person
everybody else is gonna believe.
If I had said anything,
the solution would have been
I would have been sent home.
You disassociate.
It's almost like
you're looking at yourself.
It's part of a mechanism to say,
"Something bad is happening to you."
"But let's get our head somewhere else."
You're separating
from the physical part of this.
But what happened to me...
just took something away.
It felt like forever.
It's a moment in time
that's burned into my head.
Christopher Haywood.
Grew up on the South Side of Chicago.
My abuse lasted nine years.
It would continue till I was 18.
Being told by him,
"No one will believe you. You're a kid."
"And what I'll say, people will believe.
They wouldn't believe you."
So, that type of thing
has... has stuck in my mind,
so even him making threats, you know,
of hurting somebody close to me.
It could be my mother, my sisters.
Going to the point
where he'd say "killing."
Just hearing that as a child,
it messes with your psyche.
I just felt at the time
just not to say nothing,
just to make sure everybody was all right.
In my case,
he was an older Scout
that had been bullying people.
I tried to say,
"Can you leave? I don't want to be here."
And that's when he pulled out the knife.
I tried to push past him once, um...
He pressed the knife right here.
Barely pierced the skin,
but that was enough.
I... I knew I was powerless.
As he was assaulting me, he kept saying,
"You're nothing,
and you're never gonna be nothing."
That shame became mine.
And it's still there.
And when something goes wrong,
it confirms in my mind
what I have always known to be true:
I am nothing,
and I'm never gonna be nothing.
That's what the assault did.
My abuse happened about 200 yards
away from my mother, my father,
and hundreds, if not thousands,
of Scouts and parents.
It was that close.
The... The weight of it was too high.
I couldn't handle it.
In senior year of college,
I'd climb to the top
of, uh, one of the research buildings
on campus.
Um, it was a place I'd snuck up to a lot.
And it was kind of...
Uh, it had a great view of the city.
And, um, while I was up there, I...
wanted to jump.
I tried to convince myself to do it,
and I just couldn't get that...
I think that strength, honestly,
to... to do what I needed.
And so, I looked at my watch,
which this is what I had on.
And it read 12:32.
And I tried to trick myself into doing it.
I said, "Okay, well, when this hits 12:33,
I'm just gonna do it."
"Um, it's not gonna be my choice.
It's just, snap, that's the moment."
And I took off the watch,
and I was trying to work up the courage,
and, you know,
bang my hand against the wall,
and I was trying to...
...I don't know, find a way
to do the thing I was too afraid to do.
And in the act of that, I broke the watch.
And it never got to 12:33.
Interesting story
about that picture of me as a Cub Scout.
My mother died,
and my father
had al... had already passed away,
and we had to pack everything up
and put it into storage to get rid of
the, you know, sell our house.
Years later, within a month of me going
to work for the Boy Scouts of America,
I went to the storage room,
knew the quilts would be
in this big cedar cabinet, opened it up,
pulled one of the quilts out,
and literally being protected
by the quilt,
whoever put it in there, put it between...
was that picture
which I'd never seen before.
So I felt like it was, you know,
kind of a thing,
that this was something
that was destined to be,
destined to happen.
I thought when I started
with the Boy Scouts
that I was gonna get support and,
"Mike, here's what you need to know."
"Boom, here's the stack.
You need to start going through this."
"This is our history,
this is what we do, and why we do it."
The desk was clear. Nothing.
So, I literally went to my then boss,
VP level, Jim Terry,
and I said, "Is there
any standard-of-care type documents?"
He says, "No, no, Mike. I'm not aware."
So, I reached out to a colleague of mine
at the Center for Disease Control.
She works in the division
of violence prevention.
I said, "Hey, is there a standard-of-care
document for youth-serving organizations?"
She said, "Oh, yeah, Mike. Boy Scouts
participated in it." I'm like, "What?"
So, she sends me
the document I just referred to.
So as soon as I get it,
I start reading through it.
I get to the back, the participant list.
And it literally... I think the second
or third name on there is James Terry,
Boy Scouts of America.
So, I take this doc...
This is what he's telling
you they don't have.
Never heard of it. Like it doesn't...
You know, so I take that book.
Literally, it's a book.
I take it to his office.
I'm like, "Uh, Jim,
would you explain this to me?"
And he basically just tells me,
"Well, I really didn't participate in it."
"It was a man by the name of Doug Smith.
They just put my name on it."
I'm like, "Did you know it existed?"
He goes, "Yeah, I knew it existed."
"Well, who is Doug Smith?"
He was a national staff person
at the national headquarters
of Boy Scouts of America there in Irving,
who got arrested in a child porn sting.
I'm like, "Excuse me? What?"
We prepared, uh, materials
to... to help, uh,
local councils and local units,
uh, provide safe programs for children.
What were the circumstances
under which you ceased
working for the BSA?
Uh... I... Uh...
I submitted my letter of retirement
after the police had come to my house.
Federal child porn sting.
Went to prison.
Here I am,
I'm the new youth protection director.
They never told me about this guy.
They were withholding information.
I go, "Wait a minute, how am I gonna
protect kids in their organization
if I don't have access to the information
about kids in their organization?"
So, I guess that's
an organizational decision that they made.
Well, to me, to help me figure out
what the policies, procedures,
the content needs to be,
I need that information.
My frustrations in Scouting,
I'm going into these meetings sometimes,
or sometimes I'm literally going
to the general counsel,
because I'm reporting to him.
I was the general counsel
of the Boy Scouts of America.
Both youth protection
and membership standards came under me
until some point during the bankruptcy,
at which point we moved it over.
I came in as a kid.
Went through all Scouting.
I'm an Eagle Scout.
When my son came of age,
he became a Scout leader
and was a leader in a unit.
I would tell you that
we're a microcosm of our entire society.
If we had a problem,
our society had a problem,
many other institutions had the problem.
We just happened to be the one
with the deep pocket right now.
And the one that's willing
to make the social commitment
to try to make it right
and to try to apologize,
to try to do everything we can
to keep kids safe,
and to try to compensate
for these victims.
But then to continue the mission.
And many of the survivors are very clear.
They want Scouting to continue
because of the good it did.
And we want to continue to do that.
Michael Johnson was a youth
protection director of the Boy Scouts.
He said that the organization
is still not safe for boys or girls.
How do you respond to that?
Personally, very, very disappointed.
He never expressed that sentiment.
He approved and, on a number of occasions
while he worked for the Boy Scouts,
championed our program and how effective
our safe... youth safety programs were.
He and I worked very closely together
on developing many of our new, current,
modern youth protections,
and we did not have many disagreements.
I remember him saying
that he felt that we supported...
I supported the reforms
that he was suggesting
more than he had felt
anyone had done before.
He tells a different story.
He basically says that he's frustrated
trying to put some of these
youth protection programs in place,
and that he's getting resistance.
All I can tell you
is I was shocked.
I don't know how else to put it.
He's lying.
I can put it...
I guess there's a softer term.
Uh... B... Being deceptive,
not telling the truth.
How... Whatever term is comfortable,
uh, you know, for people.
Uh, the fact is, especially in the last
three or four years,
he and I were constantly, uh, battling.
Contentious on each various item
that I was trying
to get through with Scouting.
Uh, I literally referred to it
as the gauntlet.
The messaging he wants out there is,
is that Boy Scouts is like
any other organization in America,
and that these guys
could come from anywhere,
and there's nothing we can do
to prevent them.
All of that is not true.
Boy Scouts is exceptional
in the opportunities that it presents
to perpetrators to access children
in no to very low supervised situations.
Name another youth-serving organization
that has overnight access to kids
over multiple days.
Name another organization
that a scoutmaster has the power
over whether or not this youth
can become an Eagle Scout.
Now you back up a little bit
and you think to yourself,
"How easy is it to get into Scouting?"
And so now you start to see
where those weaknesses are.
It's removing those risk areas,
known risk areas,
that helps you create
this safer environment
for kids who participate
in the Scouting programs.
You talk to a lot of these young men,
they'll tell you,
"My parents dropped me off at his house."
We've had cases where the adult
stayed the night at the kid's house.
Troop 137 in New Orleans
was a nightmare for the Boy Scouts
in a very special way.
It was one of the few cases
where you could say
a troop had actually become a sex ring.
Several men became leaders
of a troop in New Orleans,
specifically to get access
to boys to molest.
They literally recruited boys
into this troop.
And they had sex parties at their houses.
They took pictures of the boys naked.
They traded pictures with other pedophiles
around the country.
I grew up
in New Orleans back in the '70s.
My parents separated very early so,
uh, my brother and I lived with my mom.
Two men, they approached my mom.
They told her that they were
in the, uh, neighborhood
looking for new Scouts
for their new troop.
They agreed to pay for everything
"because you're a single mom."
"So don't worry
about the cost or anything."
Boy Scouts of America should never let
a bunch of single men start a troop.
There were four primary leaders.
Tom Woodall,
Lewis Sialle,
Richard Halvorsen,
and Harry Cramer.
They take you out to eat.
They bring you to the trampoline park
to help Mom out.
Sea monkeys.
My mom wouldn't buy me any
for Christmas.
And so Harry Cramer, uh, said, you know,
"Uh, you can have sea monkeys,
but they have to be at my house."
"You can't tell Mom."
None of the scoutmasters
had children of their own.
And, you know,
I'm not old enough to be a Boy Scout.
There was a lot of red flags
that should have been caught.
The boys came from single-parent homes.
They were all poor.
There was never merit badge work to do.
You know, we did campouts,
but that was just, you know,
a convenient thing to do
where you can rape a kid.
So, it appeared on the outside
like we were actually a real troop,
but we weren't.
Men would fly from out of town,
from all over.
Mostly Western Europe,
but all over the United States as well.
And we were raped by them as well.
We were... We were sold to them, you know,
rented out, whatever you want to call it.
And, uh, they always took, uh, pictures
and videos of us all the time.
They would bring you to hotels
primarily in the French Quarter.
In fact, uh, my mom dropped me off
at the hotels a couple of times.
What did she think
was happening?
Just visiting a scoutmaster
from out of town.
Especially when it's done to you
by authority figures,
you don't trust anybody.
You're hurtin'.
You don't want
to go to school the next day.
You cry when nobody can see you.
My mom, she brought me to a doctor.
He was an older gentleman.
Always had
a cigarette in his mouth.
And I don't know why,
but I trusted the doctor.
You know, he pulled up his chair,
and he said, "What's goin' on?"
I... I told him about the rape.
Um, he said, "Who's raping you?"
I said, "A lot of people are raping me
in the Boy Scouts."
And he was like,
"Get me their information."
"And I'll take care of it."
"Nobody will know it's you."
They raided the houses,
got the kiddie porn, arrested them.
So, it hits the Nightly News.
The aggressive, cruel, crass nature
of these violations
is such that these little minds
are going to be affected
for a long, long time.
When I got older,
I was one of the first people
to get a copy of the perversion files.
It was leaked to me.
And just reading through all of it
and what they knew
was going on at the time,
and they did nothing about it,
it makes you angry.
Did you ever get an apology
or attempt to make amends from the Scouts?
- Nothing?
- Never.
How do you feel about that?
Pissed off. Angry.
Angry. Very angry.
What failures do you think
the Boy Scouts made
that could've contributed
to the scope of that problem?
I think it's bigger
than the Boy Scouts.
Remember, the Boy Scouts of America
did not abuse these kids.
We had some bad people that got in.
- We read about...
- People under the banner of Boy Scouts...
- We have school...
- ...or were volunteers at the Boy Scouts.
- Scoutmasters...
- Sure.
...or people that were
largely involved with the program.
- That's what this number represents.
- Well, they're people.
Just like schoolteachers
and everybody else. There are bad people.
There's no way
to profile them ahead of time
and to identify people ahead of time.
All you can do
is use a program like we do,
which is to keep kids as safe as we can
and to continually improve that.
And to try to continually, you know,
improve our efforts.
But nobody has a profile
of a would-be abuser
that you can apply
as a litmus test to keep someone out.
The Confidential Files
do show you the risky situations
for the Scouts.
What situations are likely,
or more likely,
to expose your boys to somebody
who wants to molest them,
regardless of who that person is.
I went down to Texas to talk
to the Boy Scouts down at headquarters.
I'm interviewing the guy
whose name and stamp
is on the front page
of just about every Confidential File.
His signature is right next
to where they describe the incident
in a couple lines.
Joe Anglim says to me
he's never read a Confidential File.
- Never read it?
- Never read it.
I said, "I've got hundreds of files
with your name on it."
He said, "But I don't read them."
I said, "Did you ever count your files
or analyze them
to learn about sex abuse in Scouting?"
He says, "No." And I said, "Why not?"
He said, "Because nobody's told us
we have a problem,
and that we have to do that."
I said, "How would you know you have
a problem unless you read the files?"
And he said, "Because we know
we don't have a problem,
because we have a great program,
and we don't have any reason
to believe we have a problem."
"So we didn't look at the files and study
them because nobody said we should,
and we didn't ask anybody to look at them
because we didn't think we had a problem."
- That's the response.
- That was the response.
One of the things they had
in their marketing messaging
that used to drive me nuts is,
"The Boy Scouts has a rigorous
application and screening process."
Like, that's bullshit.
And it's not true. That's never been true.
I said, "Why don't we at least
use a government ID?"
You have to use it to buy groceries,
right, show your ID.
You have to use it to get on the airplane.
Show your ID.
What don't we at least check
a government-based ID,
driver's license or passport
or state identif... identification card
to see and make sure?
And, uh, they refused to do that.
- They refused to do that?
- Inconvenience and cost.
They didn't want to check
a government ID
on scoutmasters or volunteers.
They didn't want
to check a government ID
on scoutmasters or volunteers
interacting with your children.
Because it was inconvenient.
And cost.
And whatever cost it'd take
for that person's time to check the ID.
Whether the information
is to identify fugitives
or criminal history records.
The Boy Scouts stood out
in their opposition
to the Child Protection Act.
Most of the big youth organizations
supported it.
And it reflected the Boy Scouts' fear
of two things.
One of which was spending more money,
because they had a lot of volunteers.
And two, they didn't want to spend
the money on... on the fingerprint checks.
But also, the Scouts really kept resisting
putting added requirements
on the local organizations
in order to weed out child molesters.
Because they felt there was
only so much they could do.
And because they always
were in dire need of volunteers,
they didn't want to scare away volunteers.
I'll never forget, a chief Scout
executive I was working under at the time
literally caught me in the hallway
and said, "Well... Well, Mike, you know,
we were told by our lawyers
and our risk management people,
or whomever, that...
"Don't contact the parents if there's
an allegation of child sex abuse."
I said, "Sir, well, I guess
you need to make a decision."
"You can listen to them,
or you can listen to me."
"I'll tell you this,
I know what the hell I'm talking about."
One of the many big arguments
I had with general counsel is
I insisted on anybody
that's placed on the IV File,
perversion file, or volunteer screening
database, whatever it's called,
for anything that has to do
with sexual abuse of a child,
allegation, grooming, whatever,
needs to be reported to law enforcement.
Well, he comes into my office,
he was very upset.
"The law doesn't mandate that we report
all these allegations of abuse
unless there's reasonable suspicion
that there's sexual abuse."
We've found lots of examples
where in these files, time and again,
the scoutmasters are told
not to tell parents
or not to tell law enforcement
about abuse.
And we have a lot of first-hand experience
about the people telling us this too.
When mistakes were made,
mistakes were made.
And if people did that,
they were wrong, and we failed.
And I'm ho... I know we're doing better,
and I hope we'll continue to do better.
But the fact is,
people sometimes have made mistakes.
Just to be clear,
that's wrong.
If kids were repeatedly told
not to tell authorities or parents...
- Absolutely wrong.
- ...that is wrong.
We train kids to do just the other,
and have for the last 20 years or more.
Be clear
what you train kids to do.
Resist. Report.
Know what the barriers to abuse are,
and to make sure that those barriers
to abuse are respected
by the adult leaders they work with.
Report means
go straight to law enforcement.
Well, for a Scout,
it means go to a trusted adult.
Could be a parent, could be a leader.
But they're trained to go
to someone they're comfortable enough with
to tell the information to.
And from there,
the trusted adult is responsible
for making the communication
both to law enforcement and to the BSA.
The perpetrator
who's sexually abusing the youth
or sexually harassing them
or bothering them
is typically what was formerly
a trusted adult.
My recommendation was to create a hotline,
uh, that kids could call on their own.
There's been some wonderful research
that kids of today, especially,
really use a text and chat feature
for anonymous reporting.
Because the fact is,
while some kids will tell their parents,
some kids will tell
what they identify as a trusted adult,
most kids want to kind
of figure things out for themselves.
You know, they got these computers
in their hands now,
uh, especially the older teens.
But when I took that proposal
to Steve McGowan
and the then-vice president John Mosby,
it was, like, not "No," but "Hell no."
"We just want kids reporting
to their trusted adults, to scoutmasters."
The Boy Scouts,
over the years, have had
what they call
their youth protection policies.
They have evolved over time.
One of the cornerstones
of their youth protection
is two-deep leadership.
No Scout is ever going to be alone
with another person.
There's been a number of other changes
that have happened over time,
but it obviously hasn't worked.
When they developed
their protection training,
their education materials for kids,
they developed some really nice programs,
uh, and videotapes
for the leaders and for the kids
about sex abuse.
For a long time, they didn't require kids
or leaders to go through that training.
I said, "Why don't you require it?"
They said, "It's more work."
"But we'll make it available."
What's interesting about this
is they'd tell parents and the media,
"Well, we developed
this great child protection program
that goes out
to the kids and the... and the leaders."
And people assume everybody
goes through it, but it wasn't true.
One of the things I used to get
from our old general counsel was,
"Well, we have to be careful
of defaming anybody's character."
And I said, "Well, have you ever...
Has the organization ever been sued
for making a report of child sex abuse?"
Guess what?
We've never been sued.
And on top of that...
...I think we'd be
in a better position if we did report.
I'd rather defend ourselves
for trying to protect kids
than have it not reported and have
to explain why we never told anybody.
What better way to protect the community
than to make sure
to report it to law enforcement?
I am hardwired to protect my community.
That's what I did in law enforcement.
That whole "protect and serve" thing?
I hope you can tell
where I'm gonna stand on... on that issue.
We're talking kids.
We're talking people's children.
The early Scout movement
was built largely on religion.
It is almost a religious movement,
even though it's technically secular.
The Boy Scout program was set up in a way
that was perfect for religions
to adopt it as their youth program.
And, in fact, religions became
the foundation of Scouting.
You could be a Mormon, a Catholic,
you could be Jewish,
you could be of Islamic faith.
When you've read a few hundred
of the Confidential Files,
it becomes a little bit hard
to be shocked anymore.
One of the cases that really shocked me
was the case of Christopher Schultz.
Christopher went to a local
Catholic school where brother Edmund...
He was a Catholic brother, was a teacher.
Brother Edmund was also the head
of the local Scout troop,
which Christopher belonged to.
So he was the scoutmaster,
and he was the teacher.
It's like this bad intersection
of crossroads is what we got sucked into.
And he was good at being able
to pick out his prey and isolate,
and do whatever he was looking to do.
I was a... a target,
but to be used as leverage
for the real target, which was my brother.
And my brother was his... uh,
was his preferred, uh, victim.
He'd been at their house.
They trusted him.
So, they go up to this camp
over the weekend.
Brother Edmund commits some pretty serious
sadomasochistic sex acts on Christopher.
He started to, uh, break down
and have panic attacks,
and he started to go
through bouts of hallucinations,
auditory and visual,
for the rest of that year.
He could see and hear Brother Edmund
reminding him not to tell anybody,
you know, otherwise he was gonna kill him.
This is the first time I've gotten out
of the car and walked this area.
And it... it's hard.
It's a time that I wish
I could forget and erase.
And it reminds me
of a period of my life that I lost.
It's one of the last pictures
of my brother and I.
That would have been probably May of '78,
I think I was saying.
Uh, so I was in eighth grade.
So it would be, like,
our eighth grade graduation.
Even though it's small, it's probably
the last formal picture of my brother.
I was supposed to look after
my little brother, to protect him.
Christopher Schultz epitomized
the worst thing that could happen
to a family in an abuse case.
Not only was your son abused,
but he was so emotionally distraught
that he took his own life.
Brother Edmund was kicked out
of the church and fled the state.
What happened to the Schultzs
was they were also ostracized
by part of their community,
by people from the church.
In several of the cases in Scouting,
people say that people
in the Scouting community called them
or saw them at meetings and said,
"How dare you accuse the Scouts of this?"
"You're trying to ruin this organization."
We were 100% shunned.
I remember one of the parish priests
coming to the house
when my father was at work,
sitting down, talking to my mother,
trying to leverage
and pressure her to drop all this stuff.
If we didn't drop it,
"You're gonna be run out of town."
"And there's nothing I can do about it.
I'm trying to help you."
"All you have to do is
stop what you're doing."
"If you don't, bad stuff will happen
to you and your family."
"Do you really want
that to happen, Mrs. Schultz?"
The length certain people were going to,
to try and get you to shut up
and... and get this to go away
to protect the Church.
To me, the hypocrisy of both organizations
are what got me the angriest.
I hold them accountable.
There is blood on their hands.
Religious leaders were
on the board of directors of the Scouts.
If you think of the Boy Scouts
as a corporation,
these Church leaders
that are on the board of directors
are essentially their investors.
All the boys
in the Mormon church,
I'm not talking about just in one state,
nationally, in the United States,
go through Scouting.
That is their youth ministry,
whereas the other churches,
it was dependent
on the Catholic Church's diocese
if they had a Scouting program,
or the Methodists, or Episcopalians,
or what have you.
For the Mormons, all boys went through it.
So, that is a significant membership,
as well as volunteer,
as well as money contribution
and resource issue.
Scouts are
an independent organization,
but felt that they had to honor the biases
or perspectives of their sponsors.
And the Catholic Church,
and the Mormon Church,
is historically homophobic.
In 1978, they officially
put in their ban on homosexuals.
That was the first time
the Boy Scouts stepped in
and put on a requirement like that.
The thought was it would end all these
pedophile cases that were springing up.
Outside people will say
who the perpetrator is.
"Oh, it's a gay problem."
Right? Gays are pedophiles.
There's research that most perpetrators
are straight men.
I also think homophobia
plays a really big role
in why a lot of men can't come forward.
It plays into their shame
and pain and struggle.
My abuse took place
when I was 12.
I came forward when I was 13.
Growing up in the '90s as an abuse victim,
as a closeted homosexual,
when the organization was
still very outwardly homophobic,
this is the worst thing
that you could be as a man.
When I told a teacher about what happened,
I was immediately told,
"You've done the right thing.
This is a good thing."
"Now, this hasn't made you
question your sexuality, has it?"
"Because, you know, uh,
being gay is... is a terrible sin."
The initial letter that my abuser,
Dr. Crosley, wrote me was,
"Yes, I'm sorry."
"But this doesn't make you gay,
and this doesn't make me gay."
I think it takes years
to shed the shame that is, you know,
sort of heaped on you
directly or indirectly your entire life.
I don't think there was
a separation in people's minds
between pedophilia and homosexuality.
One of the first
national meetings I went to,
I was walking with one
of the assistant chief Scout execs,
who commented
that homosexuals are pedophiles,
and that's our primary problem
in Boy Scouts with youth protection.
And I said, "Uh, no, no." Yeah.
And, like, he goes,
"Yeah, Mike. You need to understand
that homosexuals are pedophiles."
I'm like, "No, they're not."
And he's like, "Mike, no, yes, they are."
Understand, this is a VP-level assistant
chief Scout executive saying this to me.
I'm like, "No, they're not."
I said, "Who do you think..."
"I mean, you realize
that's my whole world, okay?"
"It's interviewing victims
and interrogating perpetrators."
"If they were, I would tell you.
All right? But that's not the issue."
Here's someone
at the top level conflating
homosexuality and pedophilia.
Not only at the very top level,
he wasn't the only one.
This was a reoccurring theme.
More than one person
told us in the organization,
even at the very top levels,
homosexuality was equated with pedophilia.
Was that belief common
among leadership in the Scouts,
that there was a connection here?
I can't speak to what they thought.
But I think...
Well, you can attest to
what the tone is inside the leadership
and what was being said.
- You were there at that... at that time.
- No, I never experienced that in my time.
I experienced it in my life
for many years as I grew up in society,
and communities, and churches,
and things like that.
That there were a number
of common misperceptions.
But I never experienced that
while I was in Scouting.
- Do you believe there's a link?
- No.
Did the focus for so long
on gay Scout leaders
lead the organization down the wrong path?
In other words,
away from solving the problems of abuse?
I can't answer that. I don't know.
- Is that a distraction from the problem?
- No. I don't think so.
- You don't think it was a distraction?
- No.
I remember thinking
this organization
is focused more on getting gays out
than protecting kids from child molesters.
They think getting gays out
is protecting kids from child molesters,
and they're, like,
going down the completely wrong path.
Then I learned
about the Dale decision.
The U.S. Supreme Court
heard arguments today
over banning gays
from being Boy Scout leaders.
The issue is a New Jersey Court's ruling
that it violates
a state anti-discrimination law.
Is not being a homosexual
a core issue to being a Scout?
The message of the Boy Scouts is what
kind of behavior boys should engage in,
and that's morally straight
and clean behavior.
Why did Boy Scouts defend
this so rigorously in the Dale decision
that went all the way
to the Supreme Court?
- I wasn't there or part of the decision.
- You were a lawyer and general counsel.
No, I can't tell you what happened
in 1990, 2000, whenever.
Whichever year that decision was.
You have no thoughts
on why they went to the Supreme Court
to defend... to defend the right
to discriminate against gay Scout leaders?
Well, I think that... reflected the values
of the organization at the time.
Which have changed,
as have society's values.
Homosexuality was considered
by the organization
to be inconsistent
with the values of Scouting.
We have adapted,
and we have embraced diversity.
We have brought girls in the program.
We have evolved,
and we'll continue to evolve.
And in some ways, we are right alongside.
In some ways, we may be a little behind.
In some ways,
we may be a little bit forward.
It's a private organization.
Until the constituents
of that organization
are ready for that change,
then it's very difficult
to try to implement those kind of changes.
The people need to be
brought along in time.
They need to be able to adjust to it.
It's like any other changes that we have.
I'm the new youth protection director.
As I was starting wanting to do some,
what I thought
were very medium-level policies
and content training upgrades
for youth protection,
I kept getting told
that the Mormons may not like that.
Mormons don't like that.
And I told them, I said, "I came to work
for the Boy Scouts of America."
"I came here to protect the kids,
the boys and girls of the Boy Scouts."
"I am not working for the Mormon Church
and the Catholic Church."
And I'll remember...
I'll never forget this, Jim Terry,
the same assistant
chief Scout executive, told me,
"Mike, you need to understand something."
I'm like, "What is that, sir?"
He says, "The Mormons are sacrosanct."
At the time of the change,
there was no pressure
being exerted on us at all, and...
- By the Mormons?
- No.
No pressure from the Mormons
to keep the gay ban in place.
- No.
- Was that a concern by...?
Was it a concern?
Well, sure it was a concern.
I mean, we were concerned
about all of our constituents.
We're concerned about our stakeholders,
and... and the organization continuing
to be able to maintain that relationship.
But, uh, no, there was no...
There were no threats.
There was no gnashing of teeth.
Legally, the Scouts
continually succeeded for decades
by basically hiding the abuse
as best they could,
not even look at their own cases
and playing hardball in court.
When they did go to court
against a family, they'd ask the kid,
"You know, did you enjoy
the sex with the adult?"
They would tell the juries,
"This kid was damaged goods
by the time he came to us
because the kid
had been emotionally troubled."
- Damaged goods?
- Damaged goods.
Because one of the ironies of this
is that, abuse experts will tell you,
that kids who are troubled in some way,
emotionally troubled,
are particularly vulnerable
to the attention of an adult
who is grooming them,
and then, among other things,
starts luring them into sexual activity.
Lawyers would call me.
"Can I come see your files?"
Lawyers had always been generous to me.
I consider these public record.
So I said, "Sure, come by my house."
One of the attorneys who came
to get the files was Tim Kosnoff.
I tracked Boyle down
and he was living in D.C.
I said, "What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna
hire a high-speed scanning service
to come and set two scanners up
in that bedroom
and they're gonna scan all those files."
There were about 150,000 pages.
We litigated that up to the Supreme Court,
and the Supreme Court said
the Boy Scouts had to produce
an additional 3,200 files.
You'd read about the Boy Scouts
going to trial somewhere,
and they usually got the snot
kicked out of them.
One huge blunder came in Portland.
That was a case
involving the Mormon Church.
The Mormons wisely settled that case.
But the Boy Scouts
threw the dice in Oregon,
which was the worst place in the world
for them to roll the dice
because Oregon has punitive damages.
The Portland lawsuit brought
by Kerry Lewis was a watershed moment,
and it was really a big explosion
in the face of the Boy Scouts.
Kerry was moleste by Timur Dykes.
Timur Dykes was a Scout leader
in a Mormon-sponsored troop.
There was a warning about him
to the local bishop.
The bishop still allowed him
to stay in the troop.
And he molested at some point, I believe,
15 to 17 of the 31 kids in the troop.
We wanted to put for the jury
that Kerry Lewis was a victim
of not just Timur Dykes
but of the Boy Scouts of America.
We wanted the jury
to have a granular understanding
of what the Boy Scouts knew historically
about the problem of sexual abuse.
The jury came back and awarded
the plaintiff in that case $18 million.
That, of course, made a lot of headlines.
And then those lawyers got the court
to order that these perversion files,
that they come into the public record
as evidence in that trial.
And therefore, the public had
a right of access to them.
We are today releasing,
pursuant to court order,
uh, about 1,200 files, uh,
kept by the Boy Scouts of America
historically from 1965 to 1985,
that the Boy Scouts of America
has historically referred to
as the "perversion files."
Kerry Lewis became
the voice of a lot of voiceless people.
The significance to the public
is the same significance
as it was at trial to the jury,
which is that they represent
a body of knowledge
that the Boy Scouts of America had
that no other youth organization had
at that time or... or since.
I just don't believe
the Boy Scouts understood,
really understood,
the gravity of what it was.
The femoral artery was cut,
and they were slowly bleeding out,
but they didn't see it that way.
The Boy Scouts
had knew this stuff was going on
and just swept it under the rug,
or didn't call the cops,
or didn't call social services
and let the lives of these boys
just be torn asunder.
The Boy Scouts
have resisted legal efforts
to make more of the files public.
Now, however,
details have been put online,
listing the names
of some 1,900 Scout leaders
suspected or convicted
of abusing children.
Victims' rights attorney,
Tim Kosnoff, posted the list.
The cat was pretty much out of the bag,
involving the Boy Scouts of America.
They have abused their privilege
and their position since the beginning
because they never told people
about the nature
and extent of the problem.
They never told parents.
They never warned Scouts.
So they became an organization
which was lying to the American people,
to parents, and to Congress
in their annual reports
about the actual risks of Scouting.
It's frankly hard for me
to understand, even to this day,
how you could have all those files
about sex abuse in your organization
and not think you had a problem.
And let's just give the best intentions.
The guys running the Boy Scouts
had a very good program,
they believed in it,
and didn't want to put it at risk
by scaring people unnecessarily
about a small problem.
The question is, when do you decide
a small problem isn't small?
It's a lot like the Catholic
Church with its secret archives.
Adults are keeping track
of their potential liabilities.
They see that this is potentially
problematic for them and their reputation.
The Boy Scouts represents itself
as a place of honor.
And so, these files are the evidence
that could hurt their reputation
as being honorable.
So the instinctual move
was to just make sure they buried it,
because the institution
is more important than the individual.
The only defenses
that the Boy Scouts
and their insurance companies have had
in all these years
is the statute of limitations,
where these regressive,
predator-friendly laws
have closed the courthouse doors
to victims at age 21.
A statute of limitations
is just a deadline.
It's the arbitrary deadline
set for when you file a lawsuit
or you prosecute.
We don't have
a statute of limitations for murder.
We tend to have shorter statutes
of limitations for contract disputes.
Child sex abuse in this universe
is a lot more like murder
than it is like a contract
because the victim didn't understand
what happened to them.
Child sex abuse festers and lives on
in the soul of the child for decades.
It's not a broken leg.
The more I worked
on statute of limitations,
the more I saw
that we were just suppressing the victims
across the United States, silencing them,
and empowering the organizations.
When I started looking at this
in the midst of the Catholic
sex abuse scandal,
I started to ask
what would happen if you just said,
"Forget the statute of limitations.
Let's just get rid of it."
So I started working on those issues.
Right now, we're in the midst
of this vibrant social movement
in which survivors are coming forward
and demanding justice.
And they changed the world
with their stories, no question about it.
And lawmakers,
even those who love the Boy Scouts,
or love the churches,
or love the boarding schools,
those people are actually paying attention
and siding with the children.
And so now, a third of the states
have completely opened
the statute of limitations at some point.
When the statute
of limitations changed
in New York, New Jersey, and California,
three very, very populous states
with lots of people,
lots of children, and lots of Scouts,
the Boy Scouts faced exposure
that they'd never faced before.
The Boy Scouts concluded that
they were gonna get inundated with claims,
which they were,
and they felt that the easiest way
for them to manage that
would be bankruptcy.
The clock is ticking
for survivors of abuse
by Boy Scout leaders.
Monday is the deadline
to file a proof of claim
before potentially
losing that chance forever.
When the bankruptcy occurred
and claims started to get filed,
I was asked for a prediction, and I said...
"I'm gonna say, on the high end,
maybe 10,000 people are gonna come forth."
You start to see the numbers
come in, and we're passing 20,000,
we're passing 30,000,
we're passing 40,000, passing 50,000.
And it's like, "Oh my God."
We knew
it was gonna be a big number,
but I have to say, I was amazed
at how big that number got.
A staggering 82,000 alleged victims
have made sexual abuse claims
against the Boy Scouts of America.
We've gone from 231 files about abusers,
didn't know how many victims then,
to 82,000 victims,
which is just mind-blowing.
I think at the heart
of the experience for a lot of survivors
is that notion of not being in control.
I wasn't in control when I was abused.
My abuser controlled that situation
leading up to it, and during, and after.
So, anytime I can take back a little bit
of control for what happened to me,
it's very, very powerful.
I'm not out
to be a millionaire.
I'm not out to get a bunch of money.
I have a great retirement
from the military.
I... I don't need that.
What I'm hoping to get out
is that no child
will ever be hurt again the way I was.
That has always been my goal,
that has always been my number one thing,
was that the Boy Scouts
not only are responsible,
take responsibility for what happened,
but they have a new campaign
and a new challenge,
and that's to make sure
this never happens again.
There isn't a single survivor
that's in this for the money.
That is not the driving force
for any of us.
We want to feel like our voices are heard.
We want to feel like
there's an opportunity to heal.
I'm speaking on behalf
of no other survivor or no other group,
but I will tell you unequivocally,
I want to speak for the dead.
I wanna speak for those kids
who did not survive,
those kids who were lost to suicide,
alcohol, addiction, mutilation,
self-mutilation, self-harm.
I'm here to speak
for my Pa... friend, Patrick... um...
who I miss to this day.
The time has come for a full accounting
of what has gone on in this organization,
which, in my opinion,
is nothing less than an atrocity.
And it has to stop.
in a bankruptcy are often heated.
This particular case has been
unusually and extremely difficult.
The Boy Scouts' case
may be one of the most complicated
and structurally difficult
bankruptcies ever.
In the simplest bankruptcy case,
typically the debtor will have assets.
If it's a business,
then that business will have assets.
It'll have airplanes,
it'll have machinery.
If you think of a typical corporation,
figuring out its assets
is just not that hard.
At... At some fundamental level,
you can just sell the assets,
turn it into cash.
It becomes much, much harder
when what you have
is not one neat pile of assets,
but many related organizations,
all of whom may or may not
be legally responsible.
If, for example, you are victimized
and you were in South Dakota,
not clear you should have
any claim to assets
that are owned
by a local organization in New York,
and vice versa.
It's not clear that you might all have
rights against the national organization.
But how many assets does the national
organization actually have?
Put simply, pooling together the assets
in this case is enormously complicated.
Ultimately, we really should care
about the victims
and whether they're actually getting
their rights vindicated.
And in this complicated a process,
with this many moving pieces,
it's hard to say
that's actually happening.
No one was thinking
about child sex abuse
when Chapter 11 was put into place.
So, now you get a bad actor is the debtor,
and the whole legal scaffolding
that is now around the debtor
is all about protecting the debtor.
All of a sudden, sex abuse victims
in the thousands are now creditors.
They are legally equivalent to the roofer
that wasn't paid yet.
And they're told they're now a herd,
and they're not going to have
individual lawsuits.
We've drafted legislation to amend
the bankruptcy code because of that.
I mean, it simply was never intended
to be a warehouse for sex abuse survivors.
You worry a lawyer
will settle on the cheap.
Why litigate a case in full
if, with a one-minute phone call,
I can get half that amount?
It's not great for the victim,
but very good for the lawyer
because they're still getting 30% or 50%
for doing almost no work.
That's what you need to worry about,
the ways in which the lawyer's incentives
are gonna depart
from the incentives of the victim.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy
is not the place for child abuse.
It's a legal proceeding that
turns the victims into collateral damage,
just like they were as a kid.
And then you reach the settlement,
you know, the end of the bankruptcy,
and what is the glory of that?
The offending institution gets to live on.
And they get to say,
"If you didn't come forward during
the bankruptcy, you don't have a claim."
Bankruptcy is constructed
for the powerful.
And the powerful win.
The Boy Scouts argued
for a very long time
that sexual abuse was a minuscule problem.
This was a minuscule problem.
This was a small thing.
Given the existence of the files,
everything that we know now,
82,000 people coming forward,
this is a lot of real individuals in pain.
That was a lie.
That was a cover-up, right?
The Boy Scouts lied about that
not being a problem.
Oh yeah, 82,000 over what period of time?
And we don't even know
that that's the number.
But one is too many.
- But why should...
- One was too many.
We're a microcosm
of the society that we're in.
Ninety-five percent of abuse
happens in the home,
or with someone within the family.
What have you read lately in the news
about kids that are being sexually abused?
It's happening in the schools,
and it's happening in other places.
We believe one of the best ways
we can do it,
in addition to all the things we're doing,
is to set up a basis by which
you can track these people
and keep them
from getting into organizations.
Because that's what we know they do do,
is they seek access to youth.
Until we can prevent them
from getting access to youth,
we will never be as far along the road
in protecting these kids.
And that, to us,
is the most important thing.
Is it absolutely, perfectly safe,
and you guarantee
no one will ever have an accident,
no one will ever have
an undesirable person doing something,
or trying to do something with them?
No, you create
as many safeguards as you can.
There's no perfect plan,
and there's no endless stream of money.
And no amount of money is gonna compensate
any of these survivors,
any of these victims,
for what happened to them.
No amount of apologies
is ever going to erase,
and that's not what we're trying to do.
We're bringing them into our governance.
We're bringing them
into our youth protection.
We're asking survivors that are willing
to come out and come forward
and to monitor what we're doing
because we are committed to this.
But nobody is more sorry,
and nobody thinks that the compensation
these survivors get will ever be enough.
Kind of the way I see it
is that trust is key to the Scouts.
I mean, I don't want to put my kids
in the Scouts unless I trust them.
You can go ask... go ask the leaders.
What... What?
I'm asking you. I'm asking you.
I'd go visit units.
I'd go look at the units.
Why should Americans
trust the Scouts?
Why should we look at this and say,
"They've got it"?
Look at what we're doing
to keep kids safe.
Look at the protections
that we're offering,
and then make up your own mind.
The whole 95% thing,
he talks about things
like he's an expert on this,
which he's not even
factually accurate or correct.
He's deflecting to general society,
and schools, and all that,
and not focusing on... I mean, listen.
The Boy Scouts of America is coming out
of an 82,000-plus and counting
boys-to-men survivors of sexual abuse.
And he's deflecting
to talk about other entities?
Boy Scouts wants society to think
that sexual abuse
in the Boy Scouts of America
is all in the past.
Look at the numbers,
because there are a lot more
40, 30, 20 years ago.
But what they're not telling you
is it takes a man,
not as a boy, a man, at least 20 years...
And again,
"if they tell anybody about it."
"Most men" only tell somebody who's, like,
their wife or a therapist,
or somebody that's trusted to them,
but most of them never tell anybody
that can do anything about it and stop it.
I want you to think about that for boys
that are currently in Scouting right now.
Keep in mind,
there's been no congressional
statewide investigation
into what happened.
The only way this isn't going
to continue to happen
is if someone steps forward and says,
"We need to investigate this."
Whether it's a congressperson,
senator, president,
that's willing
to have the courage to say...
Department of Justice, some other entity.
"Let's figure out what happened here
because by understanding it,
we can prevent it."
And I use the word "courage"
very, very specifically
because part of the Boy Scouts charter,
that's authorized by Congress,
lays out they're responsible
for teaching patriotism and courage.
So that's what we need on the behalf
of our elected leaders right now,
to step in and say, "What happened?"
"Let's get an idea
of what we can do to solve this."
You came forward
in a pretty spectacular way
and spoke out against the Boy Scouts.
Why'd you want to come forward?
To me, being silent knowing what I know
is being complicit.
You talk to the people
who "know me" know me,
they know I don't yield, I don't quit.
And I was working up to the day I left
to keep Scouts safe,
even though I knew that it was,
like, four steps forward, two steps back.
Part of my employment contract had a part
in there that, to get my severance,
that I had to sign a form,
a waiver with them.
And they said, "No, you can't talk
to anybody about anything
that has anything to do
with the Boy Scouts of America."
I don't do excuses.
Either you do it, or you don't.
That's how my daddy raised me, you know?
Either you do it, or you don't.
I went in the Boy Scouts of America
to do a job.
I went in there to help the organization
do a better job of keeping kids safe.
I was... And I would say
I had some successes,
even going up against the crap
I was having to deal with.
Uh, but ultimately, I... I failed.
I'm here to tell you that the organization
is still not safe for boys and girls.
I have investigated
and protected children my whole life.
I am not gonna sit here and be quiet
while I know kids are still at risk
of being sexually abused in Scouting.
So, if I am not saying anything,
I am complicit.
That's not gonna happen.
I can't be complicit.
I said, "I'll walk away from it."
One of my epiphanies in life
is I get to choose who defines me.
That's a big deal.
Today I will be introducing
first Michael Johnson.
This call to action
is not meant to end Scouting.
Anybody who knows me,
you Scouters that are out there...
If you know me,
you know that's not what this is about.
We must instead create
the independent accountability
and oversight that is necessary
for a safer Scouting program right now.
The organization, as it now stands,
fails to meet this ideal.
It fails our nation,
it fails our families,
it fails every Scout in the program.
My good friend is a national survivor.
He's talked about his story.
He said, "Mike, let me explain
something to you."
He said, "You show me
a man that's been sexually abused,
I'll show you a lot of shame."
And I think about that.
"Shame" is a big word for a man.
And I told him, um...
And I said, "You know what? I don't like
the idea of these men carrying any shame."
"If anybody ought to be carrying shame,
it's the Boy Scouts of America."
To you survivors, and I feel strongly
about speaking directly to you.
I've had the opportunity to meet
numerous of you over the years,
while I was at Boy Scouts
and since I've left.
And then the Scouts...
that left Scouting...
...because they didn't want to put up with
their sexual abuse...
their continued sexual abuse.
So, this is for each
and every single one of you.
Because I never forgot you
while I was there,
and I will never forget you
and your experiences.
The survivors have been very kind.
Uh, you know, the guys...
These men have validated what I did.
They're the courageous.
They're the ones that are heroic.
What made me
want to say something?
I got tired.
It was either now or never.
I can remember on the night,
my mother was staying on 73rd and Coles.
And Carl lived 72nd and South Shore Drive,
which is right around the corner.
I had just built up the courage in me,
and something in my...
in me said, "Leave. Leave."
He was there at the house. I ran out.
And it's a high-rise building.
I didn't even take the elevator.
I ran down the stairs. Left everything.
Just whatever I had on
is what went with me.
And, you know, I ran in with this look
on my face and the feeling over me.
So, I get to my mother's house.
She just keeps saying,
"What happened? What happened?"
It just was building. It was...
It was building. And my blood was boiling.
The following day, I wind up telling her.
It felt like a lot of stuff was released.
I knew it was over
after me leaving there that night,
that it was done.
I feel like now
I can better share my story.
I felt justice could come my way.
I kept this bottled up
until I was about 50,
and was going through some struggles.
Midlife crisis, I guess.
My wife and I,
we had grown apart a little bit.
And she knew
there was something else going on.
She knew that there was
something I wasn't telling her.
And I told her.
Her initial reaction, I was so proud,
was she was so angry.
She was so angry at what happened to me.
And... And she said, you know,
you know, "Goddamn Scouts."
My mother, the number of times
I wanted to tell her,
"I just need to let you know
something that happened to me,
and the reason why I became so distant
at the end of high school and in college."
I mean, we never talked in college.
She eventually
ended up getting lung cancer,
and the doctor called me in and said,
"Either you or me has to tell your mother
she has inoperable lung cancer."
She ended up living three months.
Um, we... we shared
a lot over those three months.
But... But I never told her.
I never told her.
When did you first tell
somebody, come forward, talk about it?
Maybe, like, 15 years ago
or something like that.
Like, when I was an adult already.
I never even considered telling anybody.
Maybe it's just because so many people
did come forward or whatever.
For the most part,
this right now is the first time, uh,
most people are gonna find out, you know?
I'm embarrassed of this shit.
I really am.
It embarrasses me. It's like...
It sucks, man. It just sucks.
It makes me so...
I have such anger problems.
I just get so mad, I feel like I just got
cheated out of so much shit in my life
because of this shit, like,
for real, just cheated out of it.
It's cathartic. I mean, really and truly.
I mean, it feels hurt,
but it feels good too
because, you know, I don't want
to have this feeling forever.
I don't want to have it anymore.
I just wish, uh...
I wish they were alive today,
so I could tell them what happened to me.
You know,
keeping that a secret for so long.
I honestly think, uh...
I think my parents would...
My father would have been receptive
and understood.
He probably
would have been angry.
Angry that I didn't tell him sooner.
It's just something you keep.
And I'll let you all know this, uh,
five people in the room,
you're the first that ever heard that.
Why now?
Because I just feel
like I, uh, unloaded
a ton of rocks off my shoulders.
To know you're not alone,
though, is a different story.
To know you're not in a fight alone.
A fight for what?
To be normal. To feel normal.
This is the trophy award
my father got for being a scoutmaster.
It's seen better days,
but it's also the thing that gives me
that connection to him
more than anything else, and, uh...
This is...
This is why I'm speaking up, 'cause, uh...
It's what an Eagle would do.
I can't tell you
how many times I look at this,
and I'll just hold it this same way
and I'll cry.
Some of the wings you can look and see
there's kind of a haphazard
glue job on it 'cause...
at some points in the past, I've gotten
so angry at what this represents
that I've just chucked it
at the wall and then...
...struggled to piece it together.
This bankruptcy isn't the end.
This is just one step in the process.