Confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America on men they suspected of child sex abuse are set to be released after a two-year-long court battle.
The anticipated release of the files on Thursday by Portland attorney Kelly Clark will reveal 20,000 pages of documents the Scouts kept on men inside — and in some cases outside — the organization believed to have committed acts of abuse.
At least 13 alleged incidents of sexual molestation by scout officials occurred on the North Coast over three decades, according to a database of 5,000 cases published online by the Los Angeles Times.
Seven of the cases were reported in Sonoma County, five in Mendocino County and one in Lake County from 1969 to 1998, according to the Times' database.
The court-ordered release of the Boy Scouts' so-called perversion files from 1965 to 1985 has prompted the organization to pledge that it will go back into the files and report any offenders who may have not been reported to the police when alleged abuse took place.
That could prompt a new round of criminal prosecutions for offenders who have so far escaped justice.
The Scouts have, until now, argued they did all they could to prevent sex abuse within their ranks by spending a century tracking pedophiles and using those records to keep known sex offenders out of their organization.
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.
A lawsuit culminated in April 2010 with the jury ruling the BSA had failed to protect the plaintiff from a pedophile assistant Scoutmaster in the 1980s, even though that man had previously admitted molesting Scouts. The jury awarded $20 million to the plaintiff.
Files kept before 1971 remained secret, until a judge ruled — and the Oregon Supreme Court agreed — that they should be released.