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Thousands of Boy Scouts files on suspected sex abuse released

A stack of files and papers with the Boy Scouts Of America AP/CBS/iStockphoto

AP/CBS/iStockphoto

(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - About 1,200 previously unpublished files  that were kept by the Boy Scouts of America on volunteers and employees expelled for suspected sexual abuse were released on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Times published a database which contains redacted victims' names and files from 1985 through 1991. The files were released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court in October. The database also contains summary information on about 3,200 additional files opened from 1947 to 2005 that have not been released publicly.

Together, the material in the database represents the most complete account of suspected sexual abuse in the Scouts that has been made public. All of the material was obtained as a result of lawsuits against the Scouts by alleged abuse victims or media organizations. The Boy Scouts kept the files for nearly a century for internal use only, apparently to keep suspected abusers from rejoining.

The newspaper's database map depicts alleged incidents of abuse that affected, or were connected to, Scouts in every state. Over time reports increased, which may be the result of greater awareness of child sexual abuse.

The files do not represent a complete accounting of alleged abuse in scouting. Experts say many cases probably were not reported to the national office, and the Scouts say the organization destroyed an unknown number of files over the years.

The alleged abusers -- including doctors, teachers, priests and other professionals -- commonly preyed on children without father figures or gained the trust of both parents.

The latest files were used as evidence in a 1992 court case and are among those reviewed by the Times for a series of stories over the last year that detailed the Scouts' repeated efforts to keep allegations from police, parents and the public. The Boy Scout's inaction or delayed response to allegations at times allowed alleged molesters to continue sexually abusing children. Alleged abusers consistently violated a policy, instituted in 1987, prohibiting adults from being alone with Scouts.

The Boy Scouts say they've improved youth protection policies and have conducted criminal background checks on volunteers since 2008. In 2010, the organization mandated any suspected abuse be reported to police.

Complete coverage of the Boy Scouts of America on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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