An Oregon lawyer Thursday will post a searchable database of 1,250 Boy Scout volunteers from across the country accused of sexual abuse between 1965 and 1985.
For more than 80 years, the Boy Scouts of America has maintained a confidential list of “Ineligible Volunteers” – adults tossed from Scouting because they’re suspected of pedophilia and other offenses. Some people call them the “perversion files.” And the Scouts have fought hard to keep the records a secret. The Scouts began keeping the files shortly after their creation in 1910, when pedophilia was largely a crime dealt with privately. The organization argues that the files helped them track offenders and protect children. But some of the files released in 1991, detailing cases from 1971 to 1991, showed repeated instances of Scouts leaders failing to disclose sex abuse to authorities, even when they had a confession.
Today, some of those files will be opened broadly to the public, when an Oregon lawyer posts a 20,000 page a searchable database of 1,250 accused Scout volunteers from across the country. It is an unprecedented glimpse into the magnitude of sexual-abuse allegations surrounding an organization that prides itself on a squeaky-clean image.
In a prepared statement, the Boy Scouts said the confidential list was a way to keep Scouts safe: If a child molester was kicked out of one troop, he couldn’t simply go to another, although some tried. The organization has since strengthened policies, as well, with rules barring one-on-one time between Scouts and volunteers, mandatory reporting of suspected abuse, and criminal background checks. However, to date the Boy Scouts have done little or nothing to compensate many of the victims.
“In certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient,” national Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry said in the statement.
The online database will include the name of the alleged perpetrator, troop, date of the accusation and a brief description. Names of victims will be redacted for their protection.
The database contains the names of 22 “ineligible volunteers” from Washington.
There was the case of Assistant Scoutmaster Richard Dilley, who worked with a troop in Greece until he was forced to leave in 1984 after abuse allegations surfaced. He later turned up in Seattle and was convicted of molesting teenage Scouts.
There was the case of Michael L. Hicks, of Yakima, who was convicted three times of sexually abusing a child before being removed from Scouting in 1990.
And the case of the Boeing executive forced to resign from Scouting after being charged with indecent liberties in 1987. He was ordered to undergo sex-offender therapy and have no contact with children for two years.
In these cases, the Scouts learned of the abuse through authorities or newspaper accounts. But sometimes the allegations came directly to Scouting officials from a boy in a local troop.
The list is becoming public after a long Oregon court battle between the Scouts and a victim that ended with a jury verdict of nearly $20 million. The list was a trial exhibit.
Normally, trial exhibits are available to the public after a case closes, but the Scouts asked the judge to seal it. Ultimately, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled it should be open to the public.
Washington law allows victims of sex abuse to recover from organizations like the Boy Scouts that harbor abusers. There are special laws that allow such victims to file suit even after decades have gone by under certain circumstances. Furthermore, Washington courts redact the names of victims from all filings in order to protect their identities. Many victims fear that if they pursue recovery for what they went through their story will become public, but there are measures lawyers and the court can take to protect the victim’s privacy.
Our firm has successfully represented victims of childhood sex abuse against organizations similar to the Boy Scouts. If you or someone you know was the victim of childhood sex abuse through involvement in the Boy Scouts or another youth organization, contact our firm for a no-obligation confidential consultation regarding your rights.