Boy Scout “Perversion Files” A Study In The Dangers Of Secrecy

A former student, Winston Ross, weighs in on the once-secret files

Just-released “perversion files” of sexual abuse allegations against former leaders of the Boy Scouts of America offer a horrifying and extraordinary look inside 20 years of possible misconduct inside one of the country’s most revered youth institutions.

The files, which include 14,500 pages of abuse reports, were released onlineby Portland, Ore., attorney Kelly Clark, who has represented some of the accusers in lawsuits against the Scouts. The allegations range from indecent exposure to “suspected immoral relations with juveniles.” Most of the 1,200 leaders and volunteers who are named in the files were booted and remained out of the Scouts after their placement in an “Ineligible Volunteer” list, said Clark. Others slipped back in, he said at a press conference on Thursday, just before releasing the files on his website.

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Boy Scout “Perversion Files” Public Oregon Court Rules

The Oregon Supreme Court has approved the release

History of the Boy Scouts of America

History of the Boy Scouts of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

of 20,000 pages of so-called perversion files compiled by the Boy Scouts of America on suspected child molesters within the organization for more than 20 years, giving the public its first chance to review the records.

The files gathered from 1965 to 1985 came to light when they were used as evidence in a landmark Oregon lawsuit that ended in 2010 with a jury ruling that the Scouts had failed to protect a plaintiff who had been molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s.

The Scouts were ordered to pay the man $18.5 million and the case drew attention to the organization’s efforts to keep child molesters out of its leadership ranks.

The perversion files contain accusations against Scout leaders that ranged from child abuse to lesser offenses that would prohibit them from working in the Scouts. The organization, headquartered in Irving, Texas, has said the files have succeeded in keeping molesters out of the Scouts.

The Boy Scouts fought to keep the files sealed in the Oregon case. But a judge ruled that since the information was used at trial it was public record, prompting the organization to appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.

A Multnomah County judge had said that the names of alleged victims and the people who reported the accusations should be kept private. The state Supreme Court agreed with his decision.

The Scouts argued opening the files could unfairly affect those who were suspected but never convicted of abuse. The organization also said that if the information were to go public it could prejudice potential jurors in future trials.

Media organizations, including The Associated Press, The Oregonian, The New York Times, Oregon Public Broadcasting, KGW-TV, and Courthouse News Service challenged the Scouts’ effort to keep the files under seal, arguing that their introduction by attorneys in the suit makes them public record.

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