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Boy Scouts Forced to Release Secret ‘Perversion Files,’ Too Late For Some Young Victims

A clipping about Piotti's arrest, from my hometown newspaper.

Fifteen years ago, Vinnie Piotti was arrested at his Poughkeepsie, New York, home, thrown in a state police car, and led to the town court of Hyde Park.

There he was charged with 66 counts of sodomy for “deviant sexual encounters” with a child. Piotti was the scoutmaster of Troop 80 in Hyde Park. I was a Boy Scout in Troop 80, a 13-year-old with a penchant for sleeping in the woods, breaking wood in half with sharp objects, and punching other boys when there were no adults around. Piotti did not rape me, but he raped someone I know. He raped him 66 times, in campgrounds and cabins and his own basement. He raped him for two years, until the boy grew into a man and told him to get his dirty troll hands off him.

I bring this all up because today the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America will be forced by the Oregon Supreme Court to release 1,200 “perversion files,” their pedophile records the group kept from police, families, and vulnerable Scouts for decades.

The files are full of broken childhoods, inconvenient truths, and mountains of lies. They’re full of adults who knew better, and worse, adults who had an opportunity to do something but failed. Somewhere in those 1,200 files is, likely, the story of Vincent Piotti, the man who plucked one boy from his troop for his own sick pleasure.

There are also 21 cases from Dallas, five from both Garland and Plano, four from Mesquite, three each from Irving and Arlington, and a handful from other area suburbs. All told, at least 49 Boy Scouts were manhandled by their scoutmasters within a quick 30-minute drive of the association’s Irving headquarters.

Six years after Piotti was arrested, I received my Eagle Scout award, an award that I give him absolutely zero credit for. As I received that award, I thought of all the Scoutmasters I’d had in the previous 10 years, those who helped me grow into a man. Piotti’s name didn’t cross my mind.

In 2006, he died in the prison cell he deserved more than anyone else I know. He pillaged a boy’s childhood, raping him, literally, from Mexico to Canada. The fact that the Boy Scouts of America cloaked these men for decades is sickening.

No, that’s too easy of a word. It’s curdling, it’s boiling, it’s skin-melting.

Now, thanks to the hard work of the Los Angeles Times, the names of these predators will spill into the public arena.

 

Bradford Pearson of People Newspapers will soon join DMagazine.com as a full-time writer for FrontBurner.

17 comments on “Boy Scouts Forced to Release Secret ‘Perversion Files,’ Too Late For Some Young Victims

  1. The Boy Scouts of America, like the Roman Catholic Church, has been more concerned about protecting its public image than protecting the children entrusted to its care.

    It is bad for an individual to damage another person, but it is a far graver sin for an organizattion whose purpose and mission is to promote ideal behavior to witness that damage multiplied thousands of times and to deny it for its own self-serving reasons.

    Punish the men who attacked these boys, but also punish the organization who protected the attackers for so long. They are the enablers, the accomplices, and they must be held accountable, as well.

  2. Hard to believe an organization hiding these despicable secrets would dare to ban or punish gay members and Scout leaders as they have done.

  3. It is absurd that the BSA was “protect[ing] the attackers” – in fact that is a slander.

    The BSA apparently tried to track suspected pedophiles so that they don’t surface in another troop.

  4. Raya, its hard to believe the Scouts would be concerned about having men who are attracted to other males in their ranks.

  5. Looks like the BSA has a big problem with pedophiles. (Perhaps many of their leadership still hold the outdated, untrue belief that gays = pedophiles.) The BSA cover-up does not reflect their “duty to God,” “to help other people at all times” or to be “morally straight.” Despicable.

  6. I wonder where all of your outrage is over the abuses going on in Hollywood to underage kids?

  7. What about what the prospective New York Times Chairman did for Jimmy Saville? There are a great many people who read the NYT who would frown on an obvious double standard.

  8. What is most shocking is that it took so long to reveal this tragedy, and that lack of any role in the media, especially those within a 10 mile radius of the national headquarters, to persue this.

    While Scouting may have kicked these men out over the years, their only concern was keeping it quiet, to protect their image and one of the most powerful fundraising systems ever devised.

    1. They prohibit gays to ensure membership by the Morman Church which requires all their boys to join scouts.
    2. This huge ‘forced membership base’ super inflates the national membership figures, which are then used to get United Way and other funding based entirely on ‘numbers’ which United Way was for decades.
    3. They hide their wealth in side foundations under different names to make National and the Councils seem ‘fund starved’, when in fact they have hundreds of millions in assets, to further their fundraising efforts.
    4. They vastly underserve the minority and poor communities, but try to cover it up with a history of forming ‘ghost troops’ in these communities again to inflate their numbers and gain more grants.

    If National Mangement and even Council Boards had to really observe the Scout Oath and Laws, they would all be thrown out.

  9. P’kpsie is it’s own special hell. Piotti looks like my old neighbor on Hooker Ave. Lived there in 1985-86.

  10. I felt morally compelled to quit the Boy Scouts at age 14 because, as I said at the time, “I’d rather smoke dope in a parked car and listen to the Doors.”

  11. What the BSA has become in the last 15 – 29 years is a tragic misguided response to it’s earlier tragic misguided response to pedophiles in their ranks.

    To understand why any sane person would take the “secret list” approach 40 plus years ago you have to remember that there were no rape shield laws at the time. It was nearly impossible for the Scouts to ask a child to testify in court and get a conviction against these men. The parents wouldn’t allow their child to be dragged through a trial and the predators knew that by demanding a trial they could avoid conviction. So, an adult finds out that another adult is abusing a child: what do you do? First, you have to make sure that the abuse stops and that this person is never allowed to abuse someone in your organization again. (The secret list.) Then you try to prosecute, but that typically falls apart. The BSA can’t say anything publicly, that would be defamation of character. Without a conviction the best they can do is ban that adult from scouting through the Secret List.

    Once Rape Shield Laws became more common the BSA just didn’t change with the times. Keeping their head low worked, why rock the boat. That cost them.

    In response they embraced the flawed logic that pedophiles are closet gays and so they banned non-closeted gays. I can’t even write that without seeing the logical flaws tumbling out. Prior to the nineties that troops determined membership issues, not the BSA. That fundamental change of giving the BSA power over membership decisions was a big mistake.

    Taking it one step further, they started insisting that God was central to the scouting movement, even though the worldwide movement has moved past that.

    It is just a spiral of bad decision making. A real shame.

    I hope you write more about this issue. As a fellow Eagle it seems like the details are often lost in mainstream reporting.

  12. @Ket – “In response they embraced the flawed logic that pedophiles are closet gays and so they banned non-closeted gays.”

    Yeah, plenty of “flaws tumbling out” of that. And on just what evidence do you base such a slander?
    Gays have never been welcome in the BSA because the BSA is (gasp) not pro-gay. I know it might seem strange to you, but there are people – groups of people even – who do not approve of homosexuality. Sure there are plenty of Scout families who accept and welcome gays – but the BSA does not. It is astonishing how intolerant some are of intolerant people. But they are (at present) free to hold that view. Oh, there are many forces at work endeavouring to enact laws to require that the BSA accept gays. To make them accept – or else.

    “Taking it one step further, they started insisting that God was central to the scouting movement, even though the worldwide movement has moved past that.”
    Really? To which movement do you refer? It is true that Europe (the churches are empty) has “moved past that”.. And their vital numbers really make it plain that’s working out for them. Right. But the US is a vastly Christian Nation built upon Judeo-Christian values- always has been. And Indonesia, India and the Philippines (to name the top Scouting centers) are also deeply religious.
    God is and has always been central to the scouting movement and in this country still is (something the Left abhors in them). And it is a non-denominational God though the majority are Christian. So you are asserting that having God central to the BSA is part of their downfall?

    What you’re really saying is that any group, though in this case the BSA, that holds a Christian/Jewish/Hindu/Islamic view of God as central, and also holds a Christian/Jewish/Hindu/Islamic view of sexuality is wrong. What chaps my hide is that those who hold that view cannot accept – ahem, be tolerant of – people who disagree. Or as I saw in an USA Today column once “We will not tolerate such intolerance”.

    Cosmic humor pal.

  13. @ Eric: When I was a scout the troop decided membership issues in connection with its sponsoring organization. If the Sponsoring organization was a Mormon church, then membership in the church and adherence to the church’s rules was part and parcel of joining the troop. If the troop was sponsored by an HOA or more liberal church, then there may be no such requirements. (Let’s remember that we are talking about a membership who is entirely under the age of 18, so what they say about core beliefs and sexuality one day may be different the next, that is kind of the point of adolescence. some sponsoring orgs recognized this and embraced diversity in their troops.)

    Starting in the 90′s the BSA has changed that rule. Note, for almost a 100 years they needed no ban on gays or atheist. The decisions were made to reflect the values of the troop, not the BSA.

    Finally, I like how you think that being anti-homosexual is a Christian thing. There are many Christians who read it differently and the theological basis for discriminating against homosexuals is about as strong as the basis for not eating shellfish. As younger Christians learn more about what Christ has taught on this issue I think they will start to question the position you espouse more and more. The fact that some denominations have already started to move away from your stance is evidence of the change that is on the horizon. (Enjoy!)

    But to the point of non-closeted gays being banned, the way to deal with abuse is to set up systems that don’t rely on self reporting. The Girl Scouts have used such models for decades with great success without having to discriminate. And since putting such models into place the BSA has been able to allow female leadership without much issue. Systems trump discrimination every time.