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Boy Scout sex abuse files: What do they tell us? [Video Discussion]

The Times this week released about 1,200 previously unpublished files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on volunteers and employees expelled for suspected sexual abuse.

Times investigative reporter Jason Felch will discuss the files on a Google+ Hangout at 2 p.m.

The files, which have been redacted of victims' names and other identifying information, were opened from 1985 through 1991. They can be found in a database along with two decades of files released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court in October. The database also contains summary information on about 3,200 additional files opened from 1947 to 2005 that have not been released publicly.

Together, the material in the database represents the most complete accounting of suspected sexual abuse in the Scouts that has been made public. All of the material was obtained as a result of lawsuits against the Scouts by alleged abuse victims or by media organizations. The Boy Scouts kept the files for nearly a century for internal use only, to keep suspected abusers from rejoining.

DATABASE: Tracking decades of allegations

About as many files were opened in the six years before 1991 as in the previous two decades. At least in part, that reflects greater reporting of accusations, as awareness of child sexual abuse rose in the Scouts and society at large. About that time, the Scouts launched a concerted effort to train youths and adults on how to identify and prevent sexual abuse.

The files do not represent a complete accounting of alleged abuse in Scouting. Experts say many cases probably were not reported to the national office, and the Scouts say the organization destroyed an unknown number of files over the years.

The latest dossiers — used as evidence in a 1992 court case — are among those reviewed by The Times for a series of stories over the last year, which detailed the Scouts' repeated efforts to keep allegations from police, parents and the public and its resistance to performing criminal background checks on all volunteers. The BSA's inaction or delayed response to allegations at times allowed alleged molesters to continue sexually abusing children. Alleged abusers consistently violated a policy, instituted in 1987, prohibiting adults from being alone with Scouts.

DOCUMENTS: A paper trail of abuse

The alleged abusers — including doctors, teachers, priests and other professionals — commonly preyed on children without father figures or gained the trust of both parents.

 
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