Re: False Accusations of SM
(no name) ((no email))
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 14:30:57 -0600
Olan Watkins forwarded a question by a former Scoutmaster:
>I would be interested in hearing how different Districts >handle false
accusations of abuse by parents of scouts.
>Fortunately, my A.S.M. was able to back me
>up and we had documentation to show that the parent was >totally off-base
but I was told by our D.E. and S.E. that I was >totally on my own as far as
This is becoming a bigger problem, Ted, than what many
Scouters--and local Councils-- want to think about, and is one of the
largest reasons why many businessowner-parents won't volunteer to serve as a
Your District and Council Executive are correct. Under the BSA's Risk
Management policies, the burden proving your side of the issue rests with
your chartered partner and yourself. This is why three years ago, I've
recommended that anyone dealing with youth DIRECTLY should consider getting
a private insurance policy to cover accusations like this, and that this
insurance policy should be for at least a million dollars.
Many Districts and Councils, rather than to assist the Scouter, simply
present the Scouter with a letter of membership refusal, and tell him or her
that their services are no longer needed. In
that way, they don't have to deal with legalities and when the accused
parents or lawyer still want to pursue it, the BSA is no longer a party to
the matter. That's a coward way of dealing with it, but the alternative,
possibly losing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more (because the lawyer
"gunning" for the BSA and the local Council way before they will come for
you...they have more money!) is not something that none except the largest
local Councils will want to deal with. And believe me, their legal counsel
will insure that the Council can win decisively.
In the meantime, they have removed a Scouter that may have done nothing at
all, and that Scouter has a long road to hoe to get back in --if he or she
*can* get back in -- because someone just "accuses" him or her. Scouters
have been removed for other reasons that have nothing to do with abuse or even
youth membership. In several cases, Scouters have been removed from the
program "just because they cause trouble" or "because they are perceived as
the ones with all of the answers, and we need to exert our leadership over
this person". Like those removed for abuse, molestation, and harm
to Scouts, they are placed on a "do not approve" listing which travels with
them from community to community.
> After hiring an attorney and spending hundreds of dollars,
> the parent that made the accusation suddenly disappeared >from the scene
and has since left me alone. The troop did an >investigation and provided
a written report to District and >me, clearing me of all charges that were
The parent's intention was probably to try to get rid of you,
Ted. If the unit cleared you, there's no reason (unless you did
get a refusal letter) that you cannot resume serving as Scoutmaster once
again, if the unit and you can agree on it.
> My attorney told me that I could sue this parent but the >headlines in the
local paper would be 'SCOUTMASTER >CHARGED WITH ABUSE' and when I finally won,
> it probably wouldn't be mentioned in the paper at all (What a >choice!!!).
Yep, that's the way the media works. We thrive on the negativity of any
event and very seldom we give the same
amount of coverage on the positive side. And yes, we all
remember the bad parts of things more than we do the good parts of things.
>I have a bad taste in my mouth about the entire event. >District's
response to the whole thing was to tell me 'you are >on your own'. Why
would anyone put themselves and family >in such a risky situation?
When organizing a new intercity unit, I was asked to serve as the
Scoutmaster. I refused. While I had personal reasons for the refusal, the
reason I gave was that "Scouting has changed so much, that the things I
would do in the past, and did them effectively, would be viewed and
rightfully so, as violations of the BSA's Youth Protection Plan. Things
like placing my hands on a kid's shoulder as we talk privately about his
life in the Troop...and in his housing project; taking individual Scouts
home in my car after the meetings; and meeting with individual Scouts
without the benefit of a "second adult party" to confirm the meeting --
those things would net me a swift kick and permanent removal from Scouting.
We have given up so much of what used to make Scouting special, that today,
there's very little left of what we call "Scouting"."
Both the head of the new chartering partner and the DE understood my
reasoning, and I worked to find an appropriate person to serve as
Scoutmaster, even though I knew deep in
my heart that I would make a great SM for that Troop in that community!
Ted, stay in there and if you choose in your heart that you should return as
Scoutmaster, please do.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services of Kentucky (502.826.7046) __)_
174 Chapelwood Drive, Henderson, Kentucky 42420-5036 | ** |]
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