A former Boy Scouts of America official responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse said the organization was still dangerous to children and had no commitment to reform.
Michael Johnson urged Congress to look into BSA’s efforts to cover up the abuse during a tearful speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday.
In a letter to lawmakers last week, he claimed there remained a “high risk of child sexual abuse that exists within BSA Scouts,” and listed a dozen steps the group should take to become more transparent, including the publication of its so-called secret perversion files. .
“The Boy Scouts of America are not safe for children. It’s safer, but it’s not safe for children, ”Johnson said.
“We failed you. I’ve failed you, ”an emotional Johnson told survivors between tears.
Johnson was hired in 2010 as the organization’s first director of youth protection. He said that in recent years, BSA leaders had become less receptive to reform, even as the organization faced more than 80,000 complaints from victims of abuse.
“Suddenly I couldn’t make the necessary changes, and there were excuses and omissions…. I naively felt that I could make changes within the organization, and there were some successes, but it was not enough, ”Johnson said.
“I’m sick of people in this organization telling me what to say, how to say it and what to believe.”
The former official said he was fired in December as part of a financial restructuring plan and did not sign nondisclosure and nondisclosure agreements in exchange for a severance pay.
A BSA spokesperson denied that the group tried to silence Johnson and thanked him for his decade of work protecting children.
“We are disappointed to hear Mr Johnson’s characterization of the program he led and the concerns he raised, especially given his past public support for the robust measures the BSA instituted on his recommendation.” , indicates a press release.
Most complaints of sexual abuse against Boy Scouts occurred before 1990, before the BSA conducted a criminal background check on Boy Scout leaders and required two adults to be present at the events.
Johnson claimed known offenders continued to sneak into the system due to a lack of proper screening.
The organization faces 82,000 complaints of sexual abuse from former members as part of its reorganization plan. The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, which represents most of the accusers, has secured nearly $ 2 billion in settlements from BSA and its partners.
Plaintiffs will start voting to approve a new BSA bankruptcy plan later this week before the ballots are counted in January.
With AP wires