140 Californians in Secret Boy Scout “Perversion Files”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thousands of pages of internal Boy Scouts of America documents detailing sexual abuse allegations against 1,247 Scout leaders were made public Wednesday as part of an Oregon civil suit.

The cases mostly range from 1959 to 1985 and were contained in reports, known internally as the “Perversion Files,” that the Boy Scouts compiled for nearly a century as a way of keeping predators from reentering Scouting or rising to positions of authority. It worked in some cases, but failed in many.   

In more than 125 cases, alleged molesters were allowed to continue working in the organization even after complaints were made. In at least 50 cases, expelled suspected abusers reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

Attorney Kelly Clark, who obtained the files as evidence in an $18.5 million civil judgment in 2010, was given permission by the court to make public a database of the files. It includes 140 Californians, 47 of whom were in Orange County.

The files tell horrendous tales of sexual abuse, coverups by the Boy Scouts and collusion by law enforcement and government officials to keep the incidents, and any mention of the Boy Scouts, out of the press and out of the courts. Because the cases concern many men who were never brought to justice, Clark acknowledged, some of the accused could be innocent. The Orange County Register is only publishing the names of people in the files who it could confirm were convicted of crimes in court.   

The Los Angeles Times, which has written extensively on the subject of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts, maintains its own database of more than 5,000 men and a few women who were expelled from the organization between 1947 and January 2005. The files are incomplete because, the Times says, the Scouts purged an unknown number of records prior to the 1990s.

Boy Scout officials fought for years to keep the files private, claiming that their effectiveness as tools for weeding out child molesters would be eliminated if widely disseminated. Critics considered their motives to be more self-serving. Although the files were not made public until now, they were used as evidence in lawsuits over the years.

Many of the files are raw information and incomplete. They include handwritten accounts by victims, police reports and internal Scouting correspondence. 

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Boy Scout Files Detail Decades of Abuse Accusations (by Kirk Johnson, New York Times)

Boy Scouts’ “Perversion Files” Released: “The Secrets Are Out” (by Jason Felch and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times)

Boy Scout “Perversion Files” Include 47 O.C. Cases (by Doug Irving, Jaimee Lynn Fletcher, Sarah Tully and Tony Saavedra, Orange County Register)

Boy Scout “Perversion Files” Show Officials Helped Cover up Molestations (by Nigel Duara, Associated Press)

Boy Scout Files

Database of Boy Scout Files (Los Angeles Times)

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