DETROIT (FOX 2) - Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police launched an investigation against Boy Scouts of America after recent sex abuse allegations.
Estimates show as many as 12,000 boys were molested by 7,800 organization leaders, according to court documents. Nessel wants to give any victims from Michigan an opportunity to be part of this new criminal investigation with her office and Michigan State Police.
Civil litigation revealed the accusations, leading to the investigation. Officials are also asking that people report abuse allegations that can aid the investigation.
"My department has proven our commitment to accountability through similar sex abuse investigations and I believe — with the public’s help — we can secure justice for survivors who endured abuse through Boy Scouts of America," Nessel said. "We stand ready to fight for those wronged by people they should have been able to trust."
Last year, Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy after hundreds of lawsuits alleging abuse were filed against the organization.
"We’re pleased to partner with the Attorney General’s office on this important investigation," said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. "We understand the critical role our investigators will play in supporting survivors who may come forward in this case and are prepared to leverage resources statewide to address any allegations we receive."
Prosecutors, special agents, and victim advocates will also be involved in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call 844-324-3374 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to leave an anonymous tip.
Statement from The Boy Scouts of America:
"The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) wholeheartedly shares in the Michigan attorney general’s commitment to provide support for survivors, which is why we filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the two main imperatives of equitably compensating survivors who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continuing the mission of Scouting. We are moved by the bravery of those who have come forward to file claims in the BSA’s Chapter 11 case. The BSA is committed to supporting Michigan’s newly announced investigative efforts and will cooperate fully.
"As mandatory reporters, the BSA requires that all employees and volunteers promptly report any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement so that allegations can be investigated by experts. Additionally, incidents described in the claims filed in the BSA’s Chapter 11 case have already been reported to local Michigan law enforcement and we will continue to share information and cooperate with the investigation. All BSA local councils across the country have been tasked with reporting these claims to local law enforcement and will continue working to do so.
"Consistent with our commitment to protecting Scouts and upholding our values as an organization, the BSA strongly supports efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable. We believe it is imperative that all convicted abusers serve their full criminal sentences and comply with any post-release requirements to protect children and reduce recidivism. We also support efforts to strengthen protections for survivors of sexual abuse, including by reforming civil and criminal statutes of limitations governing allegations of abuse."
Regarding our Youth Protection Measures
"Over many years, the BSA has developed some of the strongest youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization, which are informed by respected experts in the fields of child safety, law enforcement, and child psychology. The BSA’s multilayered process of safeguards in place today includes the following measures, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks; mandatory youth protection training for all volunteers and employees; the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement; and a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times during Scouting activities and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interaction alone with children - either in person, online, or via phone or text.
The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (email@example.com) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior. For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies and our efforts to be part of the broader solution to child abuse, please visit Scouting.org/YouthSafety."
Regarding Additional Support for Survivors of Past Abuse
"As part of our commitment to support survivors, the BSA has partnered with 1in6 - a trusted, independent national resource for sexual abuse survivors - to meaningfully expand its online services after hearing from one survivor about how the support helped him and could be impactful for others. This 5-year partnership enables more individuals who suffered abuse while in Scouting to anonymously access vital, independent support from trained advocates when and how they need it. Survivors can access these independent services at www.1in6.org/BSA."