Slatest PM: The Boy Scouts "Perversion Files"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 18 2012 5:24 PM

Slatest PM: The Boy Scouts "Perversion Files"

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Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

THE "PERVERSION FILES": A trove of previously secret Boy Scout files naming roughly 1,500 scoutmasters and volunteers who have been accused of child molestation was made public this afternoon, a move that provided a detailed—and troubling—look inside an American institution that has long prided itself on, in the words of its mission statement, preparing "young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes."

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THE DOCUMENTS: The Associated Press: "The files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files [collected between 1959 and 1985], kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations."

WHY THEY WERE RELEASED: The New York Times:" The 'perversion files,' or 'ineligible volunteer files,' as they were also called, played a central role in a civil case in 2010 over the abuse of six boys by a scout leader in Portland in the 1980s. The judge ruled that because they were evidence, the files should be released to the public under the open records provision of the Oregon Constitution—a decision upheld this year by the State Supreme Court. More than 1,200 files were posted online on Thursday and are available for public search."

WHAT THEY SHOW: The AP, again: "Again and again, decade after decade, an array of authorities—police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and local Boy Scout leaders among them—quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children. ... At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting, a pillar of 20th century America. But as detailed in [the documents], their maneuvers allowed sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence. ... In many instances—more than a third, according to the Scouts' own count—police weren't told about the reports of abuse. And even when they were, sometimes local law enforcement still did nothing, seeking to protect the name of Scouting over their victims." The full AP write-up is worth your time.

FORMAL APOLOGY: Boy Scouts of America president Wayne Perry: "There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families."

THE DATABASE: Can be found online here.

IT'S THURSDAY. Welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow the entire team @slatest and your afternoon host @JoshVoorhees, or fill his inbox with whatever you'd like at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

THE STATE OF THE RACE: The Hill: "Mitt Romney has a 7-point lead over President Obama among likely voters, according to Gallup’s latest daily tracking poll.  Romney takes 52 percent support to 45 percent for Obama, and also leads 48 percent to 47 among registered voters. The survey is a rolling seven-day average through Oct. 17, so it includes one day of polling data since Tuesday night's debate in New York state."

SOME PERSPECTIVE: Slate's David Weigel: "It was only 13 days ago that the rolling tracking poll failed to immediately capture the Romney bounce. And yet the entire Internet paints itself blue and runs around naked because the exact same thing just happened in poll numbers that follow a winning (though not overwhelming) Obama debate. This, dear reader, is why I don't sprint over to the CMS and post breaking-news updates on the tracking polls every day. This isn't insider information. This isn't data that sheds more light on a campaign trend. It's traffic candy, something for one side to freak out over and one side to gloat over."

THAT SAID: Real Clear Politics's polling averages now give Romney the edge in both the popular vote, and the Electoral College (at least when all 10 toss-ups—many of which lean Obama—are excluded).

ANOTHER BLOW TO DOMA: Wall Street Journal"The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, joining its Northeastern neighbor, the First Circuit, ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act’s Section 3 is unconstitutional. That’s the section that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, carving out same-sex couples from federal benefits. The Second Circuit ruled that Section 3 violates Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause."

WHAT NOW? Today's ruling sets the stage for the Supreme Court to have the final say on whether the ban on federal recognition of same-sex couples will stand. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested last month that the high court would likely rule on the constitutionality of the law within the year.

ON THE TOPIC OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A new survey suggests that Maryland voters are poised to approve gay marriage when they head to the polls on Nov. 6. Should Maryland vote in favor of legalization, it would become the first state to do so by popular vote. (Maine and Washington, however, will also have the chance to vie for that title on on Election Day.)

GIVE ME A G, GIVE ME AN O ...: NBC News: "A judge ruled Thursday that a group of cheerleaders fighting for the right to display biblical-themed banners during high school football games in their small Texas community could continue to do so, at least until the battle goes to court next June. The cheerleaders in Kountze prompted a complaint to the school district in September when they rolled out banners with scriptural references, such as 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,' and 'But thanks be to God which gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' "

SLATE QUICK HITS—

CHECKING THE REST OF THE TRAPS—

NYT: "Syrian military aircraft bombed a town held by insurgents along a vital north-south highway in northern Syria on Thursday, leveling apartment buildings and a mosque and killing more than 40 people, including many children, according to activists and graphic videos uploaded on the Internet."

WaPo: "President Obama brought the big guns—Bubba and the Boss—to Ohio Thursday to shore up his slim edge in the key battleground state. Former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen spoke—and in one case sang—before a crowd of 3,000 in a gymnasium at Cuyahoga Community College just outside Cleveland, with 700 more in an overflow area."

WSJ: "Google Inc. prematurely released its quarterly earnings midday Thursday, reporting that profit declined 20% as total costs jumped and advertising prices continued to slide. The unexpected release ... triggered a selloff in Google shares. ... The stock dropped about 9% before trading was suspended and weighed on the broader Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock resumed trading around 3:20 p.m. ET and was trading down about 8% on the day."

We'll see you back here tomorrow. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe here, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

TODAY IN SLATE

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