A California judge in a Santa Barbara molestation case agreed last week to open Boy Scouts of America files containing 16 years worth of sexual abuse allegations.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna Geck ruled that the files from 1971 to 2007, including previously unreleased documents since 1991, were relevant in the upcoming civil trial of Al Stein, a former Scout leader. Stein was convicted of molesting a 13-year-old Scout and two other boys in 2009 and served two years in prison before being paroled.
The Boy Scouts argued that the files have no relevance to the case and will only serve to inflame the jurors. Plaintiffs argued in their lawsuit that the files will show the Boy Scouts had a “culture of hidden sexual abuse” the organization zealously protected.
The Boy Scouts kept so-called “perversion files” between 1960 and 2007. Hundreds were released in previous legal cases. The Oregon Supreme Court unleashed a torrent of documents in 2012 when it made public thousands of pages of documents detailing sexual abuse allegations against 1,247 Scout leaders from 1965 to 1985, including 140 Californians.
In more than 125 of those 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.
The files tell sickening tales of sexual abuse, cover-ups 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. Many of them contain raw and incomplete information, including handwritten accounts by victims, police reports and internal Scouting correspondence.
The Los Angeles Times 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.