End the Scouts Canada child abuse cover-up

For years, Scouts Canada has covered up child sexual abuse. All across Canada, senior Scouts Canada officials knew about child abusers in their organization and did nothing, over and over again. Known child abusers were allowed to continue to be Scout leaders or were "removed discreetly", allowing them to harm kids elsewhere.

The story broke when CBC Television's the fifth estate aired "Scout's Honour: Investigating sexual abuse in Scouts Canada" on October 21, 2011. That episode later won the 2012 Canadian Hillman Prize in Journalism.

the fifth estate did a follow-up broadcast on February 17, 2012 titled "The Lost Boys: New evidence of Scouts Canada's past failure to report pedophiles to police". Watch this episode for the best introduction to what took place.

The Toronto Star aptly described Scouts Canada as "Negligent bystanders to sexual abuse".

At first, Scouts Canada refused media interview requests about the child abuse problem and claimed that it had always reported abuse to police. But investigation quickly showed that this was false. A report by KPMG found at least 65 sexual abuse cases which Scouts Canada did not report to police. 13 of these cases happened after 1992, when the law started requiring that all child abuse be reported. Scouts Canada's failure to observe the law kept child abuse secret.

No real action

This investigative journalism caused Scouts Canada to apologize and they have made some minor changes to their youth protection policies, but they have taken no serious action to fix their child abuse problem.

Scouts Canada's apology consisted of a video posted on YouTube. The apology was greeted by victims with disgust and as "too little, too late".

Scouts Canada now requires that volunteers each year indicate their agreement to a Code of Conduct which prohibits child abuse. They are behaving as if child abusers just don't know that abuse is not allowed and that having them click an "Agree" button on a web page will get them to stop.

Such useless action is a smokescreen to make it look like they are doing something when in fact they are not. The real problem is that Scouts Canada has a culture of cliques and non-accountability. Scouts Canada insiders work together to avoid accountability, deflect criticism, and avoid facing justice, even for criminal matters.

Contrast this to what happened at Penn State university. When the assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was found to have abused children over many years, the university called in the former FBI director Louis Freeh to head an independent investigation into the university. They had a broad mandate to get to the bottom of the matter and make the results public.

Mr. Freeh found that officials up to the university president were involved in the child abuse cover-up. Several people were fired, forced to resign, or charged as a result.

Scouts Canada has done nothing like this. The report they commissioned from KPMG was just a basic document review of membership records. KPMG did not have a broad mandate to fully investigate what people were responsible for hiding abuse. The only person fired was newcomer CEO Janet Yale, hired from outside of Scouting. No reason was given, but the speculation is that she was fired because she wanted to properly investigate the abuse problem.

Staff and senior volunteers who have covered-up abuse are still at-large within Scouts Canada. We need a full, impartial investigation to find these people and deal with them appropriately.