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'Perversion files' could shed light on sexual abuse in Boy Scouts

Attorneys for a Boy Scout suing the Boy Scouts of America and his former scoutmaster in Minnesota have obtained documents that detail internal records kept by the Scouts on cases of suspected sexual abuse from 1999-2008. 

By Steve KarnowskiAssociated Press / September 8, 2013

Attorney Tim Kosnoff plays video of unidentified abuse victim known as S.O., during a Seattle news conference Aug. 29, to announce the state's largest lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and a slew of alleged abusers. Attorneys working on a sexual abuse case against the Scouts in Minnesota have obtained national files detailing former Scout leaders suspected of sexual abuse from 1998-2008.

Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/AP

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Minneapolis

Confidential files turned over for a lawsuit set to go to trial in Minnesota may shed new light on the problem of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

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The documents were produced in litigation brought against the Boy Scouts and a former scoutmaster, Peter Stibal II, who is serving 21 years in prison for molesting four Scouts. Attorneys for one former Scout won a court order for the nationwide internal files, commonly known as "ineligible volunteer" or "perversion files." They cover the years 1999-2008, much more recent than similar files forced into the open in an Oregon case last year.

"We are intending to use those to show they have had a longstanding knowledge of the scope of a serious problem like Stibal," said Jeffrey Anderson, the lead attorney for the molested Scout. "They kept files not known to the troops and members of the public and had a body of knowledge that was not made public."

Anderson, who built a national reputation for frequent lawsuits in clergy abuse cases, declined to say what the new documents might show ahead of the trial that begins Monday in St. Paul. He said he expects attorneys for the Scouts to try to block the introduction and release of the files. He wouldn't say how many former leaders the files cover. But the release of more than 1,200 files in the Oregon case suggests the number could be large.

An attorney for the Scouts did not return messages seeking comment. The Scouts' public relations director, Deron Smith, said in a prepared statement that protecting Scouts is "of paramount importance" to the organization, which claims over 2.6 million young people and over 1 million adult leaders as members in its various branches.

"The BSA requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse," Smith said in the statement.

He didn't say whether the Scouts would try to block release of the files, but said the organization believes keeping them private would make people more likely to report abuse.

In the Oregon case, Boy Scout files made public from the years 1965-1985 revealed a decades-long cover-up, showing that men suspected of abuse were often excluded from leadership positions but rarely turned over to law enforcement. The files also contained accounts of alleged pedophiles allowed to stay in Scouting under pressure from community leaders and local Scouting officials.

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