12,000 victims may have been abused as Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America could be hit with more sex abuse claims after new court documents were released Tuesday related to a sex abuse case in Minnesota.

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The documents, released by a firm that represents sex abuse victims, reveal there may have been as many as 7,800 Boy Scout troop leaders and volunteers who allegedly sexually abused more than 12,000 victims.

That's four times what the organization revealed more than a decade ago.

In Georgia, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) sex abuse cases have taken center stage on debates over how the state should handle childhood sex abuse claims.

Now, local attorneys want to get their hands on details that will help support their cases.

Atlanta-based attorneys Natalie Woodward and Darren Penn represent nearly two dozen Boy Scout sex abuse cases in Georgia since 2012.

"We're talking about decades and decades and decades and decades of conduct that was literally concealed," Penn said.

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Woodward and Penn learned this week that there are reportedly more than 100 documented cases of abuse in Georgia, and thousands of pedophile Boy Scout leaders nationwide have been reported from the early 1940s to 2016. That's four times the number previously reported by the organization.

"Every one of those perpetrators, they represent, most often, more than one child," Woodward said. "That's the part I think that will shake anybody to their core to hear that. And then to think it took until 2019 to get into the open."

The new allegations came this week from a New York law firm that revealed names tied to cases in the Northern District of New York The testimony came from an auditor who was hired by the BSA during an unrelated child rape case.

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"This is information coming from a Boy Scouts representative. This isn't even information that a third party or an independent group has been able to look over these files," Woodward said. "We're still hearing about it from them and we're yet to see the documents ourselves."

Penn said that, although he's glad the allegations are coming out now, it's way too late.

"I think what they owe and what they ought to be stepping up to the plate right now is: What do we do for all of the victims that have been created over all these years?" Penn said.

Carr learned that the Boy Scouts of America is moving to dismiss the Georgia cases in the Cobb County and Athens. The organization released a statement in response to the allegations saying:

"We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.

"Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920s, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations.

"At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement."

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"Scouting programs today are safe," said Erin Eisner, a chief strategy officer for the BSA and the mother of two Scouts. "If I felt for a second that scouting was unsafe, I would not be associated with nor advocate for the BSA."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Credit: George Frey

Credit: George Frey

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