Thousands of pages of once-private records detailing sex-abuse allegations within the Boy Scouts of America from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s were made public by an Oregon court Thursday, including internal reports of alleged child molestations by more than 1,200 scoutmasters and other adult volunteers nationwide.
The records — formally called the Ineligible Volunteer Files but commonly known among Boy Scout officials as “the perversion files” — were submitted under seal as evidence in a 2010 sex-abuse lawsuit in Oregon. The state’s highest court ordered the documents released under Oregon’s open records law.
“Unlike previously released summary information on the existence of the files, the files released [Thursday] contain every document associated with each case, including handwritten notes and internal communications between Boy Scout executives,” the Oregon law firm O’Donnell Clark & Crew said in a statement.
The firm represented six former scouts who alleged in the 2010 lawsuit that they had been sexually abused by a scout leader in the 1980s. The Boy Scouts of America, which lost the case, was ordered to pay the plaintiffs nearly $20 million.
The 14,500 pages of newly released records offer details on about 15 cases of alleged sex abuse by Washington area Boy Scout volunteers from the mid-1960s to 1984, including the names of the alleged perpetrators. Many of them have involved criminal prosecutions, but whether future criminal prosecutions might result from the records is not clear.
The names of alleged victims were redacted before the files were made public.
Thursday’s release of records follows a series of stories by the Los Angeles Times describing a decades-long culture of secrecy within the Boy Scouts in its handling of sex-abuse complaints against adult volunteers.
After reviewing thousands of internal Boy Scout records introduced as evidence in court cases across the country — before the Oregon files were made public — the newspaper cited hundreds of incidents of alleged sexual abuse since the 1960s, many of which apparently were not reported to police by Boy Scout officials.
Adults accused of molesting boys were often compelled to leave the Boy Scouts under the guise of being too busy with jobs or other activities to continue as volunteers, according to the Times. Many volunteers who were expelled for suspected sex abuse were able to slip back into the program, the newspaper reported.
The Boy Scouts in 2010 adopted a policy requiring local scout leaders to report sex-abuse allegations directly to police. Previously, such accusations were reported up the Boy Scouts’ chain of command. The allegations often were handled confidentially within the organization with alleged abusers being gently forced out, the Times said.
“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 national president of the Boy Scouts, Wayne Perry, said in a statement Thursday.
“Where those involved in scouting failed to protect, or, worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies,” he said.
Many of the cases detailed in the Oregon files already were cited in an online database created by the Times based on its earlier research.
The database includes information on about 5,000 people, mostly men, who were kicked out of the Boy Scouts because of suspected sexual abuse from the late 1940s through the mid-2000s. More than 50 of the cases were in the Washington suburbs.
The Times listed 103 cases statewide in Virginia, including 27 in Northern Virginia, some dating to the 1960s. In the past two decades, adults were banned from Scout troops on suspicion of sex abuse in Woodbridge, Warrenton, Arlington, Springfield, Dunn Loring, Manassas, Vienna and Alexandria.
Ninety of the 5,000 people blacklisted by the Scouts were expelled from troops in Maryland, including 27 in the D.C. area. The database lists cases in the past 20 years in Gaithersburg, Potomac, Takoma Park, New Carrollton, Waldorf and Silver Spring.