(CBS News) The Boy Scouts of America announced that it is launching a review of files the organization compiled over more than four decades on suspected child sex abusers to ensure all accusations of abuse have been reported to law enforcement.
In an open letter to the Scouting community posted on the Boy Scouts' website, the group's leaders also released the findings of an independent review of the documents, known as the ineligible volunteer files, or IV files. The documents list individuals who are unfit for membership.
The letter comes in the wake of a Sept. 16 report by the Los Angeles Times alleging the Boy Scouts failed to report hundreds of suspected child sex abusers to authorities and helped cover up some accusations.
The newspaper reviewed 1,600 files dating from 1970 to 1991 and reported that in approximately 400 cases, there was no record of the Boy Scouts reporting suspected abuse to law enforcement officials after parents, boys and staff members notified Scout leaders.
In the letter to the scouting community Tuesday, leaders of the organization said the independent review of more than 1,200 IV files dating from 1960 to 1995 found the files "boldly refute the notion that these were secret files of hidden abuse."
The review was conducted by Dr. Janet Warren, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. In a summary of her review, Warren said her analysis indicated that "while it was not perfect, and mistakes clearly occurred, BSA's IV File system has functioned well in keeping many unfit adults out of Scouting."
"These claims of abuse were not swept under the carpet and ignored," Warren wrote. "Rather, suspected offenders were pursued and often times barred from Scouting over their fervent objection and at time (sic) even the opinion of the local community."
The letter posted Tuesday said that while the organization believes the files are an "inconclusive record," the Boy Scouts "will undertake a similar review and analysis of the IV files created from 1965 to present and ensure that all good-faith suspicion of abuse has been reported to law enforcement."
The letter also acknowledged that the organization's response to some allegations of abuse was inadequate.
"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," the letter said.