Court in US says Boy Scouts 'perversion files' are public record after molestation lawsuit - InfoNews

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Court in US says Boy Scouts 'perversion files' are public record after molestation lawsuit

FILE- In this April 13, 2010, file photo shows plaintiff Kerry Lewis reacting after the verdict against the Boy Scouts of America was announced in Portland, Ore. A jury found the organization negligent for repeated sexual abuse by assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes in the 1980s. The Oregon Supreme Court has approved the release of 20,000 pages of so-called perversion files compiled by the Boy Scouts of America on suspected child molesters within the organization for more than 20 years, giving the public its first chance to review the records. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
June 14, 2012 - 12:56 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - A court in the U.S. has approved the release of so-called "perversion files" compiled by the Boy Scouts of America on suspected child molesters within the organization over two decades, giving the public its first chance to review the files on 1,200 people.

The files gathered from 1965 to 1985 came to light when they were used as evidence in a landmark Oregon ruling in 2010 that the Scouts had failed to protect a plaintiff who had been molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s. The Scouts were ordered to pay the man $18.5 million.

The case drew attention to the organization's efforts to keep child molesters out of its leadership ranks. In recent years, the Boy Scouts have faced numerous lawsuits from men who say they were molested as children by scout leaders.

The 20,000-page files contain accusations against scout leaders that ranged from child abuse to lesser offences that would prohibit them from working in the organization.

The Boy Scouts fought to keep the files sealed, arguing that opening them could unfairly affect those who were suspected but never convicted of abuse. Media organizations including The Associated Press, The Oregonian and The New York Times challenged the Scouts' effort to keep the files under seal, arguing that their introduction by attorneys in the suit makes them public record. A judge agreed.

The files are part of a larger trove of confidential documents the Boy Scouts began compiling several decades ago on people flagged as being possible molesters. By 1935, a New York Times article said the organization had 2,910 "cards" on men who were unfit to supervise young boys.

Scout executives had no written guidelines on the subject until a 1972 memo urged them to keep such files confidential "because of misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed."

"Scouts are safer because those files exist," the Boy Scouts said in a statement released Thursday. "While we respect the court, we are still concerned that the release of two decades' worth of confidential files into public view, even with the redactions indicated, may still negatively impact victims' privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse."

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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