By Joe Beck
Local and national Boy Scouts of America leaders labored Thursday to answer questions raised by the release of organizational records identifying thousands of cases of volunteers who were banned from Scouting after being accused of child abuse.
The documents, labeled as "ineligible volunteer" files by the BSA and "perversion files" in media reports, span a period from 1965 to 1985 and were created to "help BSA remove and keep out unfit individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting," according to a written statement issued by Wayne Perry, the BSA's president.
A national database compiled by the Los Angeles Times showed two files from the Northern Shenandoah Valley, one from Edinburg and one from Winchester.
Stuart Williams, scout executive with the BSA's Shenandoah Area Council in Winchester, said he had no knowledge of the Winchester and Edinburg files. He said the files are owned by the BSA's national office and referred questions about their contents to the national headquarters in Irving, Texas.
"The files are there to protect our youth," Williams said. "They don't specifically link to perversion of any kind."
The files identify "violations of membership standards," Williams said, adding, "As times change and society evolves, the Boy Scouts of America remain on the leading edge of protecting youth."
A spokeswoman at the national headquarters referred to the statement issued by Perry, but could provide no information on specific cases in Edinburg and Winchester.
Bret Hrbek of Front Royal, the Shenandoah council's Shenrapawa district chairman, said he had no "first hand" knowledge of the accusations that originated in Edinburg and Winchester.
Hrbek said the organization has established several measures to safeguard youths under its supervision.
"We're trying to make sure all of our unit leaders are being trained in youth protection," Hrbek said.
As an example, Hrbek cited a rule imposed at Camp Rock Enon in Gore that requires a single adult to be accompanied by at least two boys "to make sure the leaders have to be with groups of boys instead of just one," he said.
Hrbek also said adults are banned from tents with any boys, except their own sons.
Youth protection training is a requirement for all our volunteers," Williams said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org