The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) settled another molestation case, this time in California after just three days in Santa Barbara Superior Court. The settlement was for an undisclosed sum, and part of the settlement involves sealing the so-called perversion files, which plaintiff’s attorney Tim Hale reportedly planned to use in arguments and to distribute to jurors.
Assistant Scoutmaster Al Stein molested the plaintiff, then aged 13, and two other victims in 2007. Stein pled no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009.
The jury was to decide of BSA, based in Irving, Texas, and the local council were negligent in informing scouts, parents and volunteers about the risk of sexual abuse. A Connecticut jury faced with a similar case awarded an abuse victim $7 million this past December.
According to written reports, Hale planned to distribute to the jury during the trial about 100,000 pages of perversion files, dating from 1971 to 2007. Perversion files, also known as Ineligible Volunteer Files, detail those adults that the Boy Scouts deem unfit to volunteer with the group. The BSA began keeping the files during the 1920s, and the files include homosexuals and sexual predators.
“The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is pleased that this matter has been resolved and that we reached a settlement. The behavior included in these reports runs counter to everything for which the BSA stands,” said BSA Director of Communications Deron Smith via a statement. “While we can’t comment on the specifics related to this matter, even a single instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable.”
The Oregon Supreme Court ordered a cache of files dating between 1965 and 1985 be made public in 2012. These files were used as evidence in a 2010 case in which a jury awarded $18.5 million in punitive damages to the victim of sexual abuse.
Also in California, two Los Angeles area Boy Scout Councils have agreed to merge. The San Gabriel Valley Council and the Los Angeles Area Council will join to form the tentatively-named Greater Los Angeles Area Council. The two councils’ boards approved the move in December.
“Merging unlocks about $750,000 in annual operating expense reduction that is not possible by either of the Councils operating alone,” according to an executive summary put together by a task force on the merger. Savings will come from reduced accounting and audit fees, salary reductions due to an executive’s retirement, travel savings, lower insurance premiums and savings from an increased scale of purchasing. No layoffs are expected.
According to the executive summary, the number of Scout councils nationwide has dropped from 450 to 280 “in recent decades.” Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Philadelphia have all seen mergers of some or all of their local councils, according to the summary.