Boy Scouts ‘perversion files’: Delving into the data
More than 1,200 secret files on suspected sexual molesters in the Boy Scouts of America were made public Thursday, offering a detailed view of how the Scouts handled suspected molestations from the early 1960s through 1985.
Abuse suspects from all over the country are named in the files — many of them never reported to police or charged with a crime. Doctors, lawyers, politicians and policemen are among the accused and many are about to face public exposure for the first time.
The Los Angeles Times is incorporating the files released Thursday into its own online database, which contains information on nearly 5,000 such cases spanning 1947 to January 2005. The database offers a complete record of files opened during that period except for an unknown number of files that have been purged by the Scouts over the years. More than 300 cases involve someone with ties to a troop or unit in California.
Over the last several months the Los Angeles Times analyzed a larger and slightly more recent batch of files —1,900 cases opened on child-abuse suspects from 1970 to 1991. In hundreds of cases, the newspaper found, the Scouts apparently failed to report abuse to authorities and many times apparently covered up allegations to protect the organization's reputation. The Times also found that dozens of men who were expelled on suspicion of sexual abuse managed to reenter the organization only to face new allegations.
"The secrets are out," said Kelly Clark, one of the plaintiff's lawyers in an Oregon lawsuit that resulted in a nearly $20-million judgment against the Scouts in 2010. "Child abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems are where it breeds."
Clark's office made the confidential files public — minus the names of victims and others who reported suspected abuse — after the Oregon Supreme Court ordered their release in June at the request of news organizations including the Oregonian, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the New York Times and the Associated Press. Kept by the Boy Scouts for nearly 100 years, the files were intended for internal use to bar molestation suspects from rejoining the organization.
In a statement Thursday, Boy Scouts' National President Wayne Perry acknowledged that some allegations of abuse have been mishandled by the Scouts.
"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. "
Perry underscored the organization's enhanced child-protection efforts in recent years, including increased background checks, training and mandatory reporting of all suspected abuse.
-- Jason Felch and Kim Christensen
Photo: Map shows locations of troops and units referenced by the Boy Scouts of America in the expulsions of thousands of men following allegations of sexual abuse. Credit: Ken Schwencke / Los Angeles Times