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October 20, 2011

Scouts Canada Urged to Open its Secret Files on Alleged Sex Abusers

by Kim Mackrael, The Globe and Mail

Organization has decades-old secret database listing names of people it has barred from scouting over pedophilia allegations, CBC reports.

An Ontario lawyer specializing in child sex-abuse cases is calling on Scouts Canada to open up its records on alleged sex abusers.

The CBC reported on Thursday that the organization has a decades-old secret database documenting the names of people it has barred from scouting over allegations of pedophilia.

Scouts Canada’s policy is to share that information with police and child protection agencies, spokesman John Petitti told the CBC.

But Robert Talach, a lawyer based in London, Ont., said he thinks the organization should re-examine its old files in search of past cases that may not have been reported.

“If you have someone who was caught a couple decades ago in their 20s or 30s as a perpetrator, professionals who are aware of the patterns of perpetrators will tell you that that sex offender, that child molester, is likely still active today,” Mr. Talach told the CBC.

Mr. Talach said the information could provide help in cases that can still be prosecuted. He added that he would also like to see the information shared with academic researchers who study pedophilia.

The CBC reported that Scouts Canada’s list of alleged pedophiles is called the “confidential list,” and is housed in the organization’s national headquarters in Ottawa. Sources said very few people have access to the files.

In the United States, the Boy Scouts of America maintains a list it calls the “perversion files.” A lawsuit filed by two brothers who were abused by their scout leader eventually forced the organization to open the files. Lawyers who examined the U.S. files said they found multiple cases in which the organization did not notify police.

“Their primary concern was protecting the organization. So they covered it up,” said Seattle-based lawyer Tim Kosnoff, who represented the brothers.

In a statement, Janet Yale, Scouts Canada's executive commissioner and chief executive officer, said that Scouts Canada suspends individuals suspected of abusing children and then examines the complaint.

The CBC’s full report, called “Scouts Honour,” will air on The Fifth Estate on Friday at 9 p.m. ET

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