An Oregon court has made public thousands of pages of records belonging to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
The records detail allegations of sexual abuse by volunteers within the organization and are officially known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files, but are commonly referred to among Boy Scout leaders as the “perversion files.”
“These files and the allegations of abuse that they contain are truly disturbing,” said Zephyrhills personal injury lawyer Robert Alston in a statement. “Boy Scout volunteers are entrusted with the safety of millions of young boys.”
The files were submitted as evidence in a 2010 lawsuit in Oregon in which sexual abuse was alleged. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the documents must be made public under the state’s open records law. In that lawsuit, six former Boy Scouts alleged that a scout leader had sexually abused them in the 1980s. The BSA lost that case, and the plaintiffs were awarded damages of nearly $20 million. The records amount to approximately 14,500 pages and include information on approximately 5,000 people, mostly men, who were asked to leave the BSA under suspicion of sexual molestation. The cases date back to the late 1940s.
The Los Angeles Times recently ran a series of stories describing how the BSA has for decades dealt with complaints of sexual abuse with the utmost secrecy. Piecing together evidence from court cases across the nation—prior to the release of the Oregon files—the newspaper reported on alleged sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. Many of these incidents were apparently not reported to the police. Adult volunteers accused of sexual abuse against scouts were often compelled to resign from their positions with cover stories of being too busy to handle their responsibilities, according to the Times.
In 2010, the BSA adopted a policy requiring local leaders to report all allegations of sexual abuse to the police. Prior to that policy change, higher-ups within the organization would often handle the situations internally and quietly. In a statement coinciding with the public release of the Oregon files, Wayne Perry, the president of Boy Scouts of America, offered his “deepest and sincere apologies” for any harm inflicted on children by members of the organization.