For more than 50 years, 1,200 reports of child abuse, molestation or inappropriate behavior sat tucked away inside a secret filing system created by the Boy Scouts of America. The records included letters about abuse or suspected abuse written by parents, scout leaders and even scouts themselves.
A court order has made those files public. WFMY News 2 has uncovered multiple cases that happened right here in the Triad.
WATCH: Boy Scouts Perversion Files Include W-S Man
Bill Brackett has dedicated his life to scouting and believes it has improved the lives of thousands of men. He's been a professional scout for 43 years. His name is on three of the reports because he filed official paperwork with the national Boy Scouts of America organization about suspected abuse.
"I felt, at the time, that we did everything we could with the tools we had. I'm living with that. If we failed somewhere along the way, I apologize and I regret it very much and pray about it every day ... that we didn't allow a predator to continue," Brackett said.
Brackett said the Scouts created the "perversion files" to try to protect children. There was no sex offender registry at the time and the Scouts used the secret files as a way to kick out suspected predators and prevent them from becoming scout leaders in another city or state.
"Back then, we would deal with accusations that came. Parents, I remember, some cases where they said, 'We don't want to drag our son through a court proceeding. We're not going to press any charges, but we want this person out of scouting.' We would process it, send it to national and make sure they couldn't register somewhere else in scouting," Brackett said.
Brackett told WFMY News 2 he does remember having conversations with police about suspected abuse over the years. However, he also says, that complaints of any kind against Scout leaders were rare.
Brackett can't remember all the specifics of each case because they were all about 30 years ago. But, he does remember talking to police about some situations that came to his attention. He told WFMY News 2 he prays the men kicked out of scouting for suspected abuse did not hurt another child.
"I'd feel terrible. It'd be deep regret if even one of them molested one boy after we were made aware of it," Brackett said. "Today, if there's even a hint of something wrong, the council is instructed to notify the police department, social services department and other organizations immediately. So, I'm sure it's more effective. But, it really hurts me that this system is being beaten the way it is. It was intended, at the time, with the material we had, to try to do the best we could to screen those people out of scouting."
Brackett also said that parents oftentimes did not want to go to the police. They simply wanted the abuser kicked out of scouting. Police told WFMY News 2 that if parents don't cooperate with a child abuse case, it can be almost impossible to move forward.
"I did everything humanly possible to protect the youth while I was leader. I just hope and pray that none of them were hurt because of a failure to keep up with somebody after this. I know some have gone to jail and some did go to jail," Brackett said.
Current Scout Executive Rodney Carpenter released this information to WFMY News 2:
B.S.A. Youth Protection efforts include multi-tiered approach
focused on effective volunteer screening, education and training, and clear policies to protect youth.
1. All adult volunteers must have a criminal background check conducted before being approved.
2. There is a 2 deep leadership policy - no one-on-one meeting of adult/youth at any time.
3. All volunteers are required to take a youth protection training course prior to approval.
4. Prompt reporting to law enforcement and B.S.A. organization officials.
5. Age-appropriate youth protection training for youth on how to recognize and report suspected abuse.
6. Swift action to suspend or revoke membership of suspected abusers, even without criminal charges or convictions.
7. Detailed Child protection information in Scout handbooks that parent(s) are required to discuss with their son before beginning program.
You can also go to www.scouting.org/BSAYouthProtection.aspx