Travis Sanford reports on the closing arguments in a civil suit against Boy Scouts of America (BSA). BSA was sued over allowing a man, Timur Dykes, to remain active despite the fact that he had confessed to the Mormon bishop supervising his troop that he had sexually abused 17 boys. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled with the plaintiff, but BSA did not settle.
I really get irate when people use alleged privacy concerns as a shield for indefensible behavior. Which is exactly how Boy Scouts of America attorney Charles Smith seemingly tried to misuse privacy this week. According to Sanford’s report:
Boy Scouts of America attorney Charles Smith defended the secrecy with which the Dykes case was treated. He asked the jury to imagine the bishop standing up some Sunday and announcing that Dykes had confessed to molesting children in his troop.
“Everyone would know in that congregation who was in that Scout troop. How do you think those boys would have felt going to school the next day?” Smith asked.
Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe they would have felt that they weren’t the only victims and that there might be a way to talk with each other and get support? Maybe they would have understood that what happened to them wasn’t their fault? Maybe they would have felt that the adults in their lives supported them and that their community was behind them? Maybe parents would have been able to turn to each other for support?
And, of course, who says that the only option for notification was public disclosure during a Sunday service?
Smith said the BSA would be “damned” for privacy violations if it released the names of suspected abusers and victims, and “damned” if it did not, because it would be accused shielding the crimes of abusers.
What expectation of privacy does a confessed abuser have? Who would damn the BSA for releasing the names of suspected abusers to law enforcement and child protective services to allow them to do their jobs? And if BSA had reason to suspect that a child had been abused, then who would damn them for sensitively informing the parents so that they could seek medical, psychological, or spiritual care for their child to help them?
Trying to sell or rationalize the BSA’s inaction as stemming from privacy concerns is, well….. nothing more than a desperate legal ploy to justify the unjustifiable. And I hope the jury sees through it.