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kasane

revocation of membership

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Here's one for the discussion heap.

 

The new scoutmaster and the chairman of a troop are on a camping trip (non-scouting) with their sons and some other boys from the troop). During a campfire session, one of the boys (not one of the sons) who was the SPL said that another boy (not on this trip) from the troop had allegedly been molested by another scout on at least three separate occasions.

 

The leaders immediately phoned the parents of the alleged victim and tell them what had been told them and identified the boy who had allegedly done this deed. The parents needless to say were extremely upset. Once they returned from the camping trip, the SM, CC and the father went to the scout executive to report the matter. What transpired at the meeting is unknown, however the Scout Executive apparently took the appropriate actions required under the youth protection guidelines. At no time did the parents of the alleged victim actually contact the parents of the alleged perpetrator once they knew who he was.

 

These matters take some time to investigate, but apparenly not fast enough for the SM who filed a police report on the matter. This was not requested or done by either the parents or the Scout executive - he did it on his own initiative because he felt the investigating bodies and the scout office were not moving fast enough on the matter.

 

The parents of the alleged perpetrator were given a "heads up" by the CC that the scout office was going to be taking action against their son, but would not tell them what had been reported or what he had been accused of. They received a letter from the scout executive later stating that their son had not met the standards of membership in scouting and that his membership had been revoked. The boy was a Life Scout, with 5 years in scouting, had been to jamboree, was a ASPL, and had no behavior problems or accusations of anything (in scouting or out) against him up till that point. The boy was not an aethist, was not homosexual (declared or alleged), and met all the standards of scouting and was a good scout.

 

It took the parents nearly 6 months to find out what the accusations (anyone involved int this matter from the scout executive to the troop members refused to tell the parents what had transpired) were and then to investigate the allegations. In reviewing the alleged incidents, it was found that there was no motive and actually no opportunity for the events to have actually happened. Both boys, plus 25 other adults and boys were at all three events and the boys paths actually did not cross without other adults or boys being with them.

 

Additionally, the parents of the alleged perpetrator were never contacted by Child Welfare or police to investigate the matter. Not even a phone call, letter, summons, home visit, etc. These agencies had the family's address and phone number and could have contacted them at any time and did not.

 

However, what was rather interesting in all of this was that within a week of the SM filing the police report on the matter, the alleged victim's family packed up and left the state.

 

There were a lot of suspicious circumstances surrounding this matter. The boy who was accused never had his "day in court" to face any of the accusations and refute them. His parents went through the entire appeal process with the Boy Scouts to have his membership reinstated based on the fact that these were allegations and not proven, but it was turned down at all levels.

 

I guess you could say the youth protection guidelines do work. As soon as someone is accused of wrong-doing (whether they are guilty or not), they are immediately evicted from scouting. Possible a good policy, but it becomes a "star chamber" process in that the accused is accused, tried, found guilty and punished without ever seeing the charges facing them.

 

Just thought I'd throw this one for a discussion that is not based on gay or aethist issues.

 

 

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What can one say? If the facts are as you have presented them, it sounds like a terrible injustice has been done. Regardless, is this an indictment of the BSA or the individuals involved? I would need more information to make a call on that one.

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At this point I would say the process.

 

The parents actually had to go through two levels of appeal without actually knowing what had happened at all. All they had to go on was that their son had had his membership revoked as he did not meet the "standards of membership". Calls to the Council executive were unfruitful at best and many calls were unreturned. The Council Executive stated that he could not comment on anything. I don't think the parents wanted comments, they wanted to know what had happened and what the accusations were.

 

The parents were extremely upset to say at the least. Without knowing what the accusations were, imaginations ran into overtime and every little movement of their son and all the other boys and leaders in the troop was reviewed, timetabled and scutinized.

 

No one ever told them how to even appeal the ruling until they enlisted the support of another scout executive in another district, who was able to tell them how to go about the process. He was also able to assist in the parents in getting some reluctant cooperation from Regional and National executives, so they could at least find out what the allegations were.

 

Yes, there is an appeal process. Aside from letters or other documentary evidence that you can submit (and you have no idea what is being submitted on the other end) for evidence on which you don't even know what the charges are, the appeallant is out of the loop. A discussion and decision is made based on submitted evidence and if it is hearsay, what defense does anyone have?

 

The law in this country is that you have a right to know the charges against you and to face your accuser. If the accusations are based on hearsay, then there has to be other evidence to back it up and the accused has a right to see it.

 

I think the hardest part of this process is the boy asked me and his parents why did the scouts not follow the constitution in dealing with this matter, especially since he had earned his Citizenship in the Nation merit badge and was working on his Citizenship in the World when this all blew up.

 

I've been a commissioner for years - I had no idea what to say to him.

 

 

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The lack of some kind of due process for accused persons in these situations has always disturbed me. Scouting is not obligated to provide a process involving hearings, cross examination of witnesses, etc. and I would not want to see scouting going in that direction, but some kind of elemental fairness should be incorporated into the process. These kinds of accusations are very easy to make and the consequences are difficult, if not impossible, to completely rectify in cases of false accusations. I don't know what kinds of internal procedures BSA has. I suspect they vary from council to council, but the procedures, including procedures for accused persons, ought to be disseminated to all concerned.

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Furthermore, if due process is not being afforded, and consequently innocent people are being expelled from the organization, I'm certain that scenario would open us (the BSA) to lawsuits.

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Looks like the "leaders" really messed this one up!

Went to the parents and told them, I do not believe that should have happened, it probably really messed up the investigation.

Then SM reported it to the police instead of allowing the DE to do his job.

Looks like the "leaders" caused this scout to be expelled.

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The simple answer is that the rules of evidence don't apply to anyone but the government. BSA is a private organization and may do as they please.

 

Is this right? Not hardly.

 

We live in a witchhunt world today, especially when it comes to "child safety" or "office relationships". Innocent actions get turned into sexual harrassment, just look at Clarence Thomas. His nomination process stopped being about how good of a judge he'd be and became a contest of "did he do it?"

 

I know a boy who when in kindergarten was "counseled" for "sexually touching another boy." The transgression? They were playing some sort of game that had them walking on all fours. Boy A was behind Boy B and Boy B was going to slowly for Boy A so Boy A reached out and pushed Boy B on the butt. The teacher went ballistic, parents were called but, oddly enough, no one spoke to Boy B about what happened until long after every was over.

 

It will only get worse before it gets better.

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Very sad and tragic for this boy. Did the other boy ever actually accuse him of these deeds or was this just allegations from one boy to the SM to the Council? How can a council determine that a boy does not meet membership standards based on unproved allegations? This sounds like something that could happen unfairly to any boy.

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As far as can be determined, the route of the allegations were from the one scout to the SM and CC, who then phoned the alleged victims parents (and then to their son i suppose). It was reported in person the next day to the Scout Executive by the SM, the CC and the parent.

 

There is still no information as to how the first scout came to have the information he passed on to the scoutmaster. As far as it is known to date, the alleged victim did not report it to the scout (so it may have been hearsay or rumor from that point forward).

 

There is no indication of what transpired in the alleged victim's family, except that the father was with the two leaders at the scout office. Aside from naming dates and places, after the phone call, when the incidents supposedly occured (at which other scouts, leaders, parents (including those of the two boys involved) were present, the alleged victim and his parents did not report the incident, file a police report (the scoutmaster did) or pursue any other avenue of recourse. When the SM filed the police report, within a week, the other family moved out of state.

 

Obviously as commissioner it isn't my role to investigate these events, but sometimes you end up being the counselor to confused parents and end up at a total loss as to how to help.

 

 

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Two thoughts (with all the ususal exemptions that we don't really have enough info, the other side of the story, blah, blah, blah):

 

Sounds to me as if the SE is the one who blew this one. My understanding is that the revocation letter is somewhat of a form letter which is supposed to include the appeals process. If I were the parent of the accused Scout, my attitude would be that we can talk now or we can talk during depositions....

 

Secondly, by calling the police, the SM did nothing wrong. As a Scouter, BSA policy requires us to notify the SE if we suspect a YP violation. But if we think it is appropriate, nothing prevents us from going to outside authorities. Your conscious -- and your local mandatory reporting laws -- should be your guide.

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One question, is the SM a mandatory reporter. If so, I'm not sure he can separate his Scouter required actions from his state mandated ones.

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After spending many evenings in Youth Protection Training at Round Table, it was my understanding that the SM is not a mandated reporter. I believe that is why the Scouts have the YPG. If an allegation is made, the Scout Executive provides the information to the appropriate agencies to investigate.

 

This removes the scouter, troop or committee from any liability regarding malicious reporting. That's how it was explained to me.

 

The alleged victim was not in any danger from the other boy, as his family had also moved from the area two months before the accusations were filed. (it wasn't a sudden move as the entire troop threw a farewell party for the alleged perpetrator and his family - the alleged victim and his family were present at the party as well). The parents said said that the SM (when he finally talked to them) told them that he felt the Council wasn't moving fast enough on this - so that's why he filed the police report).

 

I am not a lawyer, so I can't advise the parents on legal issues. They did what was required of them in the appeal process outlined by BSA. I don't know what other recourse they have (except a lawyer). That step is up to them - they have been angry and hurt and stunned by what happened. I don't think they have the financial resources for a lawyer. I think they are resigned to what is done is done.

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I realize that the SM as an SM is not a mandatory reporter. However, if he's a doctor, paramedic, teacher, social worker etc, he might be a mandatory reporter. Tha's the angle I was coming from.

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No, i don't believe any of the adults involved were mandatory reporters. No one was in any of those professions.

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In most states being a registered scouter makes you a mandatory reporter.

 

The role of the BSA is not to investigate suspected child abuse. It is to insure that the suspected abuse is reported. I am totally surprised that the SM reported the abuse before the parents did, considering the length of time he waited to place the report. What were the parents waiting for?

 

The role of the BSA is to insure that the rules of scouting and Youth Protection were followed. To say that the scout executive informed the scout that he did not meet the membership standards is a broad statement. There could have been other elements besides the abuse accusation that caused it. That is not the usual way this is handled.

 

"It took the parents nearly 6 months to find out what the accusations (anyone involved int this matter from the scout executive to the troop members refused to tell the parents what had transpired) were and then to investigate the allegations. In reviewing the alleged incidents, it was found that there was no motive and actually no opportunity for the events to have actually happened. Both boys, plus 25 other adults and boys were at all three events and the boys paths actually did not cross without other adults or boys being with them."

 

If none of the adults or boys would talk about this, then how was this conclusion reached and by whom?

 

It also seems unusual that it is unknown what happened in the meeting with the scout executive but every other detail in the event seems known.

 

Once the adults who were told first hand what was alleged every action from that point on should have been confidential and no one should have knowledge of any actions outside of the required parties.

 

Im sorry but this is a lot of here say. As a commissioner did you ask the scout executive what the councils procedure was when a suspected abuse is reported? Did you ask the Scout executive what the BSAs responsibilities are in a reported abuse? Did you ask the SE if simply having an allegation made against you is enough to be removed from scouting or is there some burden of proof required? Did you ask the SE what the appeal process was? All this information can be discussed without sharing the particulars of a specific incident, and would be helpful to you as a commissioner.

 

The Constitution controls the government not private organizations. The BSA is controlled by its bylaws and charters. It is unfortunate that on rare occassions an innocent person is punished rather than risk another person being injured.

 

Bob White

 

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