An Oregon attorney has released an estimated 1,200 Ineligible Volunteer (IV) files from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) on a website. The files, dating from 1965 to 1985, detail information on alleged child molesters and others the BSA deemed a threat to scouts’ safety.
The data was used as evidence in a 2010 civil suit against the BSA by six scouts in Portland, Ore., who were abused by their scoutmaster. A judge ruled it permissible to open the files to the public.
Kelly Clark, the attorney for plaintiff Kerry Lewis, has put the files into a searchable database on his website, www.kellyclarkattorney.com. “The secrets are out,” he said at a press conference today. “Child abuse thrives in secrecy, and these secrets are out.”
Lewis won a $1.4 million settlement against BSA for abuse he suffered at the hands of his scoutmaster during the early 1980s. The judge in that case ruled that the files should be made public records, and the Oregon’s highest court upheld that judgment in June.
Clark, of the Portland law firm O’Donnell Clark & Crew LLP, praised the BSA for stepping up efforts to protect scouts. The Irving, Texas-based BSA now requires that every adult volunteer undergo a criminal background check, and all good-faith suspicions of abuse must be reported to the police. “Very rarely do we see organizations say ‘we blew it,’ and the Boy Scouts said that.”
The Boy Scouts will be going back through the files, identifying cases where it was not clear that the incidents have been reported to police and then doing so. Deron Smith, director of public relations for the BSA, said they would do the same for files dating from 1985 to the present “at a later date.”
However, Clark has said the BSA has not gone far enough. He called upon the organization to step up its counseling efforts for scouts who have been abused, and said he will be mailing a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to audit the Boy Scouts’ abuse policy, “to make sure they’re doing what they say and the policies are working,” he said. “They asked us before to trust them. We did and it didn’t work out so well for the thousands of boys in these files.”
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our Scouts,” said Smith in a statement. “We have always cooperated fully with any requests from law enforcement and welcome any additional examination by authorities of Scouting policies, training, and files to learn from our longstanding Youth Protection efforts.” He added that counseling of scouts who have been molested has been available since the late 1980s.
“There is some kind of counseling in place, but people have called the Boy Scouts and they have not offered it,” said Clark. “We’re calling on the Boy Scouts to create or strengthen its counseling services.”
A judge declared this past June that the files used as evidence should be made available to the public. Clark worked with the Boy Scouts to redact the names of victims and whistleblowers before the files went public. “After trial, evidence goes back to the party that introduced it,” Clark explained. “We did work closely with the Boy Scouts on redactions.”