EXPOSING BOY SCOUTS SEX ABUSE TURNED INTO BATTLE OF PRESS FREEDOM AGAINST POWERFUL INTERESTS

By Brian Knappenberger: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ON NOVEMBER 16, the U.S. passed a milestone: the end of a window of less than nine months in which nearly 92,700 people came forward with shocking sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. By way of comparison, in the last 15 years there have been some 15,000 credible child sex abuse allegations reported against the Catholic Church.

The allegations of sexual abuse against the Boy Scouts include highly violent attacks. More than half of the claimants, according to Tim Kosnoff, an attorney who has spent years representing victims of child sexual abuse, described behavior that would constitute a Class A felony — “the most serious child sex offenses,” Kosnoff said. Cover-ups by Scout officials were frequent. Instead of informing authorities, the officials told the subjects of the allegations to quietly leave the organization. Many went on to join other troops, only to face more allegations of child abuse. The young people targeted by abuse were often told by Scouting officials not to tell their parents.

There are few historical comparisons to the large-scale moral and ethical failure of the Boy Scouts organization. Arriving at our present moment — which in some ways has begun a process of healing — has not been easy.

Take the case of Adam Steed, a young man I met while directing the short film “Church and the Fourth Estate,” and the journalist Peter Zuckerman. Theirs is a tale of a long struggle for accountability, a protracted battle against the massively influential forces of the Boy Scouts, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and monied interests that went to great lengths to defend those institutions. Ultimately, it became a story of grave abuses, a story about getting a public hearing about those abuses, and about the freedom of the press to report on a massive string of alleged crimes against powerful interests.

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