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The Boy Scouts' Police Problem

Dozens of teenage Explorers have been sexually abused by cops. Should the Scouts share the blame?

Ceding oversight to the police departments and whatever local authorities they answer to may be a sound legal strategy, says Patrick Boyle, author of Scout's Honor, a book detailing cases of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts. But it is disappointingly hands-off. "In a program that pushes kids to go above and beyond," he says, "the kids would be better served if their leaders went above and beyond, too."

Judith Cohen, a Temple University psychology professor specializing in youth sexual abuse, is more blunt. "Before [Learning for Life] has any more kids enroll [as Explorers], they should take a very systematic look at the problems and why they're arising," she says. "You can't just trust the police departments and hope for the best."

Maggie, the Explorer abused by former Sergeant Vince Ariaz in Texas in 2007, is a prime example of who suffers when Learning for Life cedes oversight of its program to locals, says her lawyer, Jeffrey Edwards. "Every person that was supposed to look out for her not only failed, but also really turned their back on her," he says. "In this case, the authorities were notified. They just didn't do their job."

Dominic Bugatto
Brownsville, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another
Brownwood Police Department
Brownsville, Texas, Sergeant Vince Ariaz allegedly forced himself on one underage Explorer and performed oral sex on another

This article appeared in print as "Hands-On Experience: Dozens of teenage Explorers have been sexually abused by police officers. Critics say the Boy Scouts, who oversee the program, should share the blame."

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