Scouts Canada sexual abuse reporting questioned

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Report suggests organization’s failures to alert authorities

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

An independent review released last week by auditing firm KPMG suggests that Scouts Canada has mishandled the reporting of sexual abuse allegations over the last 64 years, failing to report 65 allegations of sexual misconduct to the authorities.

The review came at the request of the Scouts Canada organization as a follow up to a CBC investigation last fall for the fifth estate that was run in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times report on Scouts Canada and the Boy Scouts of America. The fifth estate investigation revealed that Scouts Canada had tried to cover up more than a dozen child sex-abuse cases and avoided legal authorities by settling out-of-court with the victims. The program also found evidence of a “confidential list” kept by the organizations that contained suspected or known offenders.

Former CEO and executive commissioner of Scouts Canada, Janet Yale, said in a statement to the fifth estate in October of last year, “To eliminate any confusion or misunderstanding on your part, Scouts Canada wishes to be categorical: both assertions [that Scouts Canada “retains ‘secret lists’ or ‘secret files’ that detail rumours, reports or suspicions with respect to misconduct on the part of current or past volunteer leaders,” and that “the contents of these alleged files have been—or are being—withheld from police and other authorities”] are completely false. As we have informed the fifth estate repeatedly and explicitly, unlike Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Canada has no history of keeping so-called ‘pink files’, ‘pink folders’, ‘secret lists’ or secret files’. To be clear, we keep no files, folders, lists or records of any kind that detail suspected instances of misbehaviour, policy violations or abuse on the part of volunteer leaders.”

[quote style=”boxed”]While the KPMG investigation found that Scouts Canada did not actively attempt to hide any sexual abuse cases, there were “disorganized, incomplete and inconsistent” records…[/quote]

Yale resigned from Scouts Canada in November of 2011 due to “philosophical differences” with the organization.

While the KPMG investigation found that Scouts Canada did not actively attempt to hide any sexual abuse cases, there were “disorganized, incomplete and inconsistent” records and that “[it] is clear from the state of the files that Scouts was not managing these matters centrally or learning corporately from past mistakes.”

KPMG also found that there were some instances where volunteers guilty of sexual misconduct had been able to simply resign, instead of facing suspension or termination.

“I guess the most troubling part of the report is there are times where our processes and procedures and our policies and our people failed,” said Steve Kent, chief commissioner of Scouts Canada. “We failed to follow our own policies and procedures.

“I think one of the most positive findings is that the report didn’t reveal any systemic attempt to cover up or hide any information relating to incidents that occurred in the past.”

The report also found that the system was far better after Scouts Canada created national protocols and centralized its information. Kent has stated that, “Scouts Canada is a safer organization than ever before in our history.”