Boy Scouts of America told Congress background checks were too expensive

Scouts fought to keep sex abuse allegations secret

SAN DIEGO - A Team 10 investigation has found one of America's most trusted youth organizations resisted background checks for men who worked with young boys.

Last summer, Team 10 revealed allegations of sexual abuse inside the Boy Scouts of America. Since then, Team 10 fielded tips from former scout leaders and found video testimony before Congress suggesting the Boy Scouts of America didn't know who was leading their troops.

In 1993, a scout executive told Congress it was too expensive to background check volunteers. The testimony was captured on C-SPAN archives as Congress considered the National Child Protection Act.

Lawrence Potts, then director of Scout administration, said the cost of background checking volunteers would prohibit some people from volunteering.

During the testimony, Potts sat next to representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Those organizations implemented background checks in the mid 1980s.

"Experts have indicated that criminal background checks identify in advance nothing more than a small minority of those who are predisposed to molest a child," Potts told Congress. "We know the leaders we're selecting. They come out of the community they're serving in."

Team 10 found the Scouts also filed written testimony in 1993, telling Congress "the BSA has no accurate statistics on the incidence of child sexual abuse in scouting."

The testimony occurred as the Scouts had thousands of secret files detailing alleged sexual abuse in the organization -- hundreds of which Team 10 reviewed and revealed last summer.

In response to questions about the testimony, the Scout's national spokesman Deron Smith wrote:

"That testimony was given nearly 20 years ago and it's difficult to understand the context of the testimony. Since this testimony the BSA has significantly changed its youth protection practices. Today, the BSA requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting to authorities of even suspected abuse. We have continuously enhanced our multi-tiered policies and procedures to ensure we are in line with and, where possible, ahead of society's knowledge of abuse and best practices for prevention. BSA's standards and relentless focus on youth protection have been recognized and praised by experts in child protection -- including Victor Vieth, a former prosecutor who heads the National Child Protection Training Center."

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