PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - Grade-school visitors touring the Multnomah County Circuit Court were quickly shooed out of Judge John Wittmayer's courtroom after chaperones realized their charges were listening to testimony in the $25 million punitive damages phase of a sex abuse trial against the Boy Scouts of America. Witnesses on Wednesday defended the Scouts' efforts to train adult leaders to recognize and prevent child sex abuse, and why they did not use their extensive collection of records of abuse to warn parents.
Most of the defense testimony on Wednesday boiled down to three points: that the Boy Scouts have no nationally mandated training program to train adult volunteers to recognize and prevent sexual abuse; that the Scouts have never explicitly warned parents that their sons might face sexual abuse from Scout leaders; and that no national Scout leader ever wanted to look at the thousands of records of alleged abuse in the organization's "ineligible volunteer" files, nor did they think it would be useful or possible to have the files analyzed to help fight sexual abuse of children in Scouting.
Defense attorney Charles Smith asked the BSA's Chief Financial Officer, James Terry Jr., chairman of the Scouts' ad hoc Youth Protection Taskforce, to guide jurors through efforts the Scouts had taken to recognize and respond to child sexual abuse.
Terry said that in 1985, Scouting Magazine, a BSA publication for adult Scouters, began to publish letters from the chief Scout executive, recognizing child sexual abuse as a problem in society and calling on Scouts to do something about the problem inside and outside scouting.
Around the same time, articles were published in Boy's Life, a BSA publication for children, talking about the "wrong kind of touching." By the late 1980s the Scouts had formed an expert advisory panel to help them develop their message and produce videos, such as "It Happened to Me" and "A Time to Tell," depicting scenarios of abuse.
Terry said the Youth Protection Program was established to keep abuse from occurring in the Scouts. He said Scouts also implemented guidelines such as the "Two Deep Rule," which suggested that at least two adult volunteers be present for every Scouting activity, and the No One-on-One Contact guideline.
Other recommendations encouraged privacy for Scouts and Scout leaders in sleeping, showering and bathroom arrangements, Terry said. He added that Scouts had eliminated the use of ritual dress such as "Native American loincloths" in Scout ceremonies.
Under cross-examination, Terry acknowledged that none of the articles, videos or training programs presented Scoutmasters as possible abusers. Nor did the Scouts believe they had authority over local councils to require their volunteers to take Youth Protection training, Terry said.
Plaintiff's attorney Paul Mones asked if it was the specific intent of the Scouts to exclude scenarios involving Scoutmasters.
"I don't know," Terry replied.
"Well, was it an accident?" Mones asked.
"No," Terry said.
"Aren't they excluded because including it would make the Boy Scouts of America look bad? If the IV-perversion files contain thousands of examples, do any of the videos or publications contain examples of anal rape and oral sodomy of Scouts by Scoutmasters?"
Terry said they did not. He repeated the claim made by Scouting officials who have testified in the case, that he did not know what was in the ineligible volunteer files.