(CNN) – The Boy Scouts of America believed more than 7,800 of its former leaders were involved in sexually abusing children over the course of 72 years, according to newly exposed court testimony — about 2,800 more leaders than previously known publicly.
The Boy Scouts identified more than 12,000 alleged victims in that time period, from 1944 through 2016, according to the testimony, which was publicized Tuesday by attorney Jeff Anderson, who specializes in representing sexual abuse victims.
The numbers, Anderson said, come from what the BSA calls its volunteer screening database — a list of volunteers and others that the Boy Scouts removed and banned from its organization over accusations of policy violations, including allegations of sexual abuse.
That 7,800 includes scout leaders and masters across the country accused of sexually assaulting “children under their charge,” Anderson said Tuesday at a news conference in New York.
“What hadn’t been known to us is the real scope of this,” Anderson said.
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting,” the BSA said Wednesday in a statement.
“At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement,” the statement said.
The Boy Scouts emphasized that when someone is added to its volunteer screening database, “they are removed entirely from any scouting program” and prohibited from rejoining anywhere.
Anderson said the latest numbers were revealed in court testimony on January 30, in the course of a Minnesota child sex rape trial unrelated to the Boy Scouts.
Janet Warren, professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, testified in that trial as an expert who knew about policies regarding protection of children from sexual abuse.
Besides her work as a professor, the BSA retained her in 2013 to research its ineligible volunteer database and to recommend how to make it more effective, according to BSA. Earlier, BSA had her review and write a 2012 report on 1,200 ineligible-volunteer files that were introduced in a 2010 lawsuit in Oregon.
In this year’s Minnesota trial, an attorney asked Warren about her involvement with the Boy Scouts. In her answer, she said her review of the group’s database showed the BSA revoked the registrations of 7,819 people from 1944 through 2016 on the belief that they were involved in sexually abusing a child, and that it had identified 12,254 victims.
Warren told reporters on Wednesday she expects to present her review in a more detailed manner this summer.
She said there is no evidence of a cover-up by the organization.