(CBS/AP) PORTLAND, Ore. - For decades, police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and local Boy Scout leaders quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children, newly released confidential papers show.
The so-called "perversion files" - 14,500 pages released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court - support claims that alleged sex abuse was covered up across the U.S. and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.
The files were made public Thursday by Portland attorney Kelly Clark, although the Associated Press obtained copies weeks in advance and conducted an extensive review of them. At a news conference, Clark condemned the Boy Scouts of America for their attempts to suppress the files that reveal efforts that allowed sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence.
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.
The allegations stretch across the country and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.
Clark is in possession of the files because he represented a Portland man who was abused by his assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s, a lawsuit that culminated in a jury siding with the client. The Scouts were ordered to pay $20 million.
Clark's colleague, attorney Paul Mones, said the files "show how pedophiles operate, how child molesters infiltrate youth organizations."
"These guys (abusers) basically were in a candy store, the way they thought about it," Mones said.
The files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives,
handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations.
The Scouts launched a legal battle to keep the documents confidential but in June, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that they could be released to the public with the redaction of victims' names. This is the first time that the earliest files have ever been put in the public domain.