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Boy Scouts' 'Perversion files' show cover-ups at local level

Published October 18, 2012 10:52 am

20,000 pages • The records of men inside – and sometimes outside – the group believed to have committed abuse.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

PORTLAND, Ore. • Local Boy Scout leaders, police officials, prosecutors and mayors helped hush up numerous child sex abuse allegations against scoutmasters and other volunteers, according to details in a trove of nearly 15,000 pages of so-called "perversion files" compiled by the Scouts from 1959 to the mid-1980s.

Portland attorney Kelly Clark released the files on Thursday.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the files weeks in advance and conducted an extensive review of them.

The files document allegations of sex abuse by Scouting volunteers across the country. The Scouts have been collecting the documents since the early 1900s, and continue to do so.

At the news conference, Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.

"You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children," said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.

Clark's colleague, Paul Mones, said the files in the Portland case represent "the pain and anguish of thousands of Scouts" who were abused by Scout leaders.

The two attorneys were releasing all 14,500 documents used in the Portland case at their website: kellyclarkattorney.com .

Clark has been in possession of the files since he represented a Portland man who was abused by his assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s. That lawsuit culminated in a jury finding in his client's favor in 2010. It was a landmark case, and the Scouts were ordered to pay $20 million.

Files on 1,200 suspected abusers were used in evidence in that case. The Scouts launched a legal battle to keep the documents confidential, but the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in June they could be released to the public with the redaction of victims' names.

Many of the files released Thursday have been written about before, but this is the first time the earliest ones have been put in the public domain.

The files show that on many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions — the reason they were collected in the first place.

But the files also document some troubling patterns.

For example, a number of alleged pedophiles were able to continue in Scouting because of decisions by local Scout leaders and sometimes pressure from community leaders. In multiple cases, judges, pastors, county attorneys and others intervened to keep the name of Scouting out of the courts or off the front page.