Investigate Abuse Reports in Area

Extremely disturbing allegations of child sexual abuse not reported to the authorities throughout the nation – including right here in the Northern Panhandle – have been made. They need to be investigated immediately by local law enforcement agencies.

Thousands of pages of previously secret files kept by the Boy Scouts of America have been made public as a result of an order by the Oregon Supreme Court. Nicknamed the “perversion files,” they include information about more than 5,000 men and a few women kicked out of the Scouts as a result of complaints about sexual abuse from 1947 through 2005.

In many cases, those complaints were not reported to police, though they involved allegations of adults preying on children.

Among reports in the files were allegations of abuse in Glen Dale, New Manchester and New Martinsville, according to a published report. Twenty-one other cases in other West Virginia communities were included in the files.

Much of the information in the BSA files is sketchy, so it is difficult to determine whether there was police involvement in the Northern Panhandle situations. Again, local police agencies, perhaps working with the West Virginia State Police because of the scope of the inquiry, need to find out.

It appears that many cases in the BSA files were, in effect, covered up to avoid reflecting badly on the Scouting organization. In some situations, the adult predators were arrested later for other assaults on children. In others, the assailants may be dead. In still more, the passage of decades may make it difficult or impossible to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In situations, it still may be possible to find, arrest and prosecute the guilty parties. For example, the New Martinsville case allegedly occurred in 2002.

The thought that sexual abuse of children was covered up is, in a word, sickening. It needs to be emphasized, however, that allegations in the BSA files are just that – reports not proven in courts of law. Still, simple justice demands they be investigated.