The bulk of sexual abuse cases within the Catholic church and the Boy Scouts were part of the broader rising-crime trend of the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Yet it took until 2002 for the Catholic church scandal to break, and 2007 for the Boy Scouts scandal. (The Washington Times did a series on the Scouts in '91, but it did not reverberate throughout popular awareness.)
Fast-forward to 2014, and we aren't dealing with these topics anymore — not because we've become desensitized, accepted them, and come to expect such behavior. If it hasn't been a hot topic for awhile now, we can't be desensitized to it. And those who weren't tuned in to the period when it was a hot topic, like the younger Millennials, ought not to be desensitized, and should be raising a stink.
It's just something we don't want to think about anymore. The Boy Scouts are going to let faggots back into the ranks of troop leaders any day now, and no one is making the obvious jokes about what that just might lead to. We're supposed to trust the experts and authorities within the organization and any governmental supervisors, and go along with it. Thinking about, let alone talking about, y'know... sex, especially when it's perverted, harmful, and offensive, would just be... well, awkward.
What was it about the climate of 2002 to the late 2000s that allowed these topics to surface and be taken at least somewhat seriously among the elite and the general public alike? You didn't see this level of outrage during most of the '90s or during this decade so far.
I think the public response to cope with 9/11 put folks in a more open mood, both the victims who were coming forward and the audience who could've chosen to tune them out. When people sense a rise in the level of dangerous attack, they naturally band together and support each other more than when they feel like the world is safe enough to go it alone.
So, from about 2002 or 2003 through I'd say 2007 or '08, the social climate suddenly got more open, engaging, and freewheeling. There was also a revival of pop culture from the later half of the '70s and especially the '80s, as we sensed that those rising-crime times had lessons to teach us in our post-9/11 world. However, after 5 to 10 years of no more 9/11 style attacks, we gradually came to view the original attack as an awful fluke, and resumed the closed-off cocooning trend that began back in the '90s.
Not only, then, was that climate more favorable to discussing an epidemic of sexual abuse in the abstract, it was even more open to these concrete scandals because they took place primarily in the '70s and '80s. We weren't remembering only the uplifting parts of life in the good old days, but the darker current running under everyday life back then as well.
In 2014, high school kids couldn't find it any uncooler than to sport the American Apparel / '80s aerobics look that their counterparts were in 2006, and bringing up the depravity of homo leaders in a major church or youth organization would just be... y'know, awkward. It almost feels like we're back to the second Clinton administration, only more so, with neo-Hanson and neo-Spice Girls music on the radio, and with sex scandals striking audiences as titillating (at most sordid) rather than disturbing.