The recent news out of Epping and Newfields of the arrest of former Boy Scout Scoutmaster, Eugene Perreault, for felony sexual assault of a Boy Scout has sent shockwaves through those communities. Perreault is believed to have victimized several Boy Scouts between the mid-1990’s and 2006. His story is a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of Boy Scouts of America’s failure to meaningfully confront the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting.
The accusations against Eugene Perreault are abhorrent but should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts of America has been aware of the problem of pedophiles using its organization to meet and sexually assault young boys for nearly a century. In fact, sexual abuse in the Boy Scout organization was so rampant that, around 1920, it began keeping records of sexual abuse by volunteers and employees. These records are dubbed the “Ineligible Volunteer” or “IV” Files. The IV files were kept hidden from the public for decades but can now be publicly viewed online, thanks to a very recent Court order out of Oregon in a case against the Boy Scouts for its failure to protect a Boy Scout from sexual abuse.
The truth is that Boy Scouts of America has known of the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting for many, many years, but has done very little to address the problem. When allegations of sexual abuse in Scouting began to surface in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Boy Scout organization’s company line was to deny that a problem existed. After many lawsuits were filed in the mid-1980s, the organization finally acknowledged that a problem existed. In response, it created a “Youth Protection Program” that, in reality, was designed to gain positive public relations for the Boy Scout organization instead of meaningfully protecting Boy Scouts. Through instructional videos and materials, the Youth Protection Program warned Boy Scouts that there was a potential danger of sex abuse for young boys in the world, but that they would be safe in Scouting.
Incredibly, despite all the evidence of sexual abuse in the Boy Scout organization, Boy Scouts of America did not require criminal background checks of all volunteers until 2008. In 2010, it created a position within its Youth Protection Program for a full-time director. Unfortunately, such measures are too late for Eugene Perreault’s victims and other Boy Scouts who were failed by the youth organization. Boy Scouts of America and similar organizations should be held accountable for turning a blind eye and failing to protect its youth.
The attorneys at Abramson, Brown & Dugan have vast experience handling sexual abuse claims. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, please contact one of our attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights.