On Court Order, Boy Scouts' Confidential 'Perversion Files' Go Public | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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On Court Order, Boy Scouts' Confidential 'Perversion Files' Go Public

On orders from the Oregon Supreme Court, the Boy Scouts have released more than 1,200 confidential files the organization kept on suspected child molesters from the 1960s through 1985.

Commonly referred to as the organization's "perversion files," they give the public a first and intimate look at how the Boy Scouts handled allegations of sexual abuse. In some cases, they show how some volunteers were booted from the organization, then snuck back in, only to be kicked out again when parents or scouts made allegations of sexual abuse.

The Los Angeles Times has had access to some of these files for months, after they were handed to them by a "Seattle attorney." One of the most stunning revelations the paper uncovered is that the files show Scouts "failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public."

Throughout the day, we'll explore these files, bring you specific narratives about them and we'll also point you to reporting from around Web. What follows is a quick, bulleted guide to all the pieces in this real-time, updated post. The links will take you to other news outlets or other portions of this post that will give you a fuller explanation:

-- In a statement, the Scouts defended their system of identifying child abusers and protecting children from them. Wayne Perry, the organization's national president, however, also apologized to the victims and their parents where the organization may have failed.

-- Why were these files released? They were used in a 2010 trial over the abuse of six boys in a troop in Portland, Ore. The New York Times reports that the resulted in an $18.5 million punitive judgement against the Scouts. Media organizations, including Oregon Public Radio, sued for the files to be made public and a judge agreed saying they should "be released to the public under the open records provision of the Oregon Constitution."

-- The Los Angeles Times has built a searchable database that includes the vast number of files, including some from more recent years that are not part of this release.

-- In the file of a Stockton, Calif. volunteer, we find an example of one volunteer who in 1983 was removed from a troop in Stockton, Calif. for "suspected child molestation." He rejoined a troop in Phoenix, Ariz. in 1987 and remained there until 1988.

-- In the file of one Indianapolis volunteer, we find an example of a man who was allowed back into the Scouts after receiving counseling. During his second go around, he admits to taking "liberties" with a 14- and 15-year-old boy and the Scouts decided not to refer the case to authorities.

Update at 2:23 p.m. ET. The Case Of A Stockton Volunteer:

One was removed from a Scout troop in Stockton, Calif. in 1983, after pleading no contest to "lewd conduct and child molesting."

The volunteer, however, joined a troop in Arizona in October of 1987. He "resigned" in June of 1988 after allegations that he was "attaching himself" to certain boys. At that time, the Scouts also seemed to realize that the volunteer appears to be the same volunteer that was kicked out in California.

Lawyers met with the volunteer in June of 1988. In that record, they also detail that the volunteer had been accused of "improper behavior on a camping trip and was removed from leadership by the Red Mountain Methodist Church."

Update at 2:22 p.m. ET. The Scouts Respond:

The Boy Scouts of America released a statement in which they apologize for the instances in which they have let victims and family down.

Wayne Perry, the organization's national president, writes:

"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. 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."

But the system has been improved and it works, Perrry said.

"Experts have found that the BSA's system of ineligible volunteer files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to potentially dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes they play an important role in our comprehensive Youth Protection system," Perry said.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


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