Over 14,000 pages of private records - known among Boy Scout officials as the “perversion files” - were released Thursday, detailing more than 1,200 alleged child abuse cases by scoutmasters and other adult volunteers. The records, now available under Oregon’s open records, were previously submitted under seal as evidence in a 2010 sex abuse case.
Boy Scout president Wayne Perry released a statement acknowledging the files and issuing an apology.
“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,” Perry said. “Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.”
The cases range from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s and focus on accused child abusers within the organization nationwide. In 2010, the Boy Scouts adopted a policy requiring leaders to report sexual abuse cases to the police. But before that policy was established, they were instructed to just report the cases up the organization’s chain of command. In the almost 20-year span the files encompass, reports say that nearly one-third of the allegations were left unreported to authorities,.
Leaders within the organization often chose to deal with the matters privately sometimes forcing the accused out of the Boy Scouts quietly. These actions spared the organizations and the accused men any embarrassment.
Gilion Dumas, co-counsel of the Boy Scouts case, joined msnbc’s Alex Witt to explain the purpose of the files, saying if those accused “tried to get back into a troop or back involved with a troop, the idea was to run their name pass this list of people who were in the files and then deny their registry.”
Dumas also stated that the Boy Scouts kept the files without informing others they had them because the Scouts were worried about “tarnishing their own reputation.” She said the documents exemplified the “if you resign quietly, it will be better for you, it will be better for us” attitude leaders acquired.
Witt asked Dumas whether charges could be filed by the victims if a number have years have passed since the case.
Dumas said, “States have different statues of limitations of different periods of time when lawsuits can be brought either criminal or civil. There are a few states that have extended statutes of limitations for bringing criminal charges against some of the perpetrators. Those criminal cases may still go forward.”
She added, ”Some states extended the civil limitations allowing people to bring private lawsuits against the accused or the boy scouts. They vary from state to state.”
Dumas encouraged counseling or pursuing other paths to healing if the victims couldn’t file a lawsuit.
Upon the release of the records, The Los Angeles Times reviewed the files and complied an online database of areas most affected by the allegations of abuse, the names of the accusers and the documents reporting their abuse.