June 21, 2012 — The Supreme Court of Oregon has decided that thousands of pages of documents detailing sexual abuse and misconduct by Boy Scout leaders from the mid-1960 to the 1980s will be released to the public, with the names of victims redacted. The so-called “perversion files” were the central piece of evidence in a 2010 jury trial against the Boy Scouts, in which the organization was ordered to pay $18.5 million to six men who were sexually abused as young boys by a scout leader.
The Boy Scouts of America kept the “perversion files” as a record of misconduct, allegations of sexual abuse, investigations, and other misdeeds by scout leaders. It was intended to be a way to identify and remove bad leaders, and to prevent abuse. Instead, in 2010, the files became evidence that the Boy Scouts were aware of abusers within their organization, but failed to keep them away from young scouts.
Oregon State Judge John A. Wittmayer issued an order to release the files to the public, but the Boy Scouts of America appealed his decision. The Boy Scouts argued that “even with the redactions indicated, [the files] may still negatively impact victims’ privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse.” Although the files will not contain the names of victims or people who reported abuse, the Boy Scouts were concerned that 20 years of reports of misconduct could still harm innocent people. Today, the Oregon Supreme Court decided to reject the appeal, and the files will soon become public.
According to a lawyer who represented one of the abuse victims, it is unlikely that evidence in the files will spark any more criminal or civil lawsuits. In most cases, the statute of limitations has passed, though the deadline varies state to state. Victims of abuse are unable to file a lawsuit against the abuser after this statute passes.
The Boy Scouts faced a jury trial in 2010, which involved sexual misconduct by Timur Dykes, a former scout leader who was accused of sexually abusing six young boys. A jury forced the Boy Scouts to pay $18.5 million in damages in that case. In 1993, Dykes was criminally convicted of sex crimes against children. He is now on parole, and the Oregon sex offender registry lists him as homeless on the streets of Portland.
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