A California child sexual abuse lawsuit settlement last week will allow the Boy Scouts of America to keep its “perversion files” outside of public view for a little bit longer. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a settlement has been reached between a 20-year old Santa Barbara man and the Boy Scouts of America. The man was sexually abused at age 12 and 13 by a Scout leader named Al Stein. Mr. Stein plead no contest to charges that he endangered three boys in 2007. He later violated his probation when child pornography was found on his cell phone. The case had begun to receive attention from lawyers across the nation because the victim’s attorney had been successful in securing the Boy Scouts’ “perversion files” during the course of discovery and fact-finding. The “perversion files” are internal files that Boy Scouts of America has been amassing since the 1920’s identifying sexually abusive scout leaders and their victims. Boy Scouts of America has fought for many years to keep these files secret. The Supreme Court of Oregon ordered 20 years of files (1965 to 1985) released in a 2012 child sexual abuse lawsuit that ultimately led to a $20 million jury verdict. Had the California lawsuit gone forward, much more recent perversion files could have been introduced into evidence. This evidence would presumably serve to refute Boy Scouts’ claims that in recent years they have cleaned house and are taking child protection much more seriously. Perhaps it is the cynic in me, but this settlement seems much more motivated by the Boy Scouts’ preference to keep the newer “perversion files” sealed from public view, rather than by an interest in doing right by the victimized person. Boy Scouts claims the files need to be kept secret in order to protect the victims, as well as those scout leaders who have been “falsely” accused. According to the L.A. Times, a review of some previously disclosed “perversion files” reveals a dogged effort by the Boy Scouts to protect abusive scout masters from criminal responsibility, and protect the organization’s reputation. It seems to me that the Boy Scouts could easily release the perversion files – if they wanted to — and redact or black out the names of the victims in order to protect their privacy. This is what the Boy Scouts would do if they were truly interested in seeing justice done for the kids who were entrusted to them. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that organizations will go to in order to avoid responsibility for the reprehensible actions of a small group of sick individuals — quite often to the detriment of admittedly innocent child victims. Don’t these organizations realize that their tactics and strategies actually serve to compound the damage that has already been done to these young kids? I am guessing that it won’t be...Read More »
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