The head of Scouts Canada acknowledged on Friday that police might have not been informed about all past allegations of sexual abuse within the organization, reversing claims made just two months earlier.
Chief Commissioner Steve Kent said a third-party review of records relating to abuse has turned up a number of cases in which it is unclear if police were notified. He said those cases are now being referred to authorities.
“We’re talking about, for the most part, cases that I would consider historic,” he said. “The reality is that there are bad people out there in the world and some of these incidents ... took place in a different time. We were perhaps more naive back then.”
The third-party review, being conducted by private auditing firm KPMG, comes in response to a report in December by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp alleging that Scouts Canada maintained a list of suspected pedophiles dating back at least to the mid-1980s and did not share it with authorities.
The organization — the Canadian version of Boy Scouts with over 100,000 members in Canada — had denied the allegations. The case has raised troubling questions about how the organization dealt with past cases of sexual abuse and prompted Scouts Canada to try to assure Canadians that the organization is “providing an extremely safe and healthy environment.”
Kent’s revelations comes two months after he apologized to anyone who might have “suffered harm” at the hands of volunteer leaders and insisted any information on suspected pedophiles was shared with police.
“The statement I made in December was absolutely true, based on any cases that I had awareness of,” Kent said. “I’m surprised at some of what’s being discovered. I’m also very sorry and while I can’t be held directly responsible, I assure you that I do take responsibility for confronting our past completely.”
Kent would not say how many cases were suspected of never being reported to police. He said most involved allegations that occurred years ago, some going back six decades.
Kent said some files currently being turned over to authorities may have been reported to police in the past, but because there is no record of that, the organization is “erring on the side of extreme caution.”
The Ontario Provincial Police has reportedly started to investigate, but they did not immediately respond to messages.