Trials & Litigation

Lawyer wins court order for confidential Boy Scout files that may reveal extent of sexual abuse


File photo of Jeffrey Anderson.
Photo by David Ellis

Confidential files produced in connection with a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America may shed new light on the extent of the organization’s sexual abuse problem.

The files have been turned over to lawyers for a former Scout who is suing the organization and a former scoutmaster who is now in prison for molesting four other Scouts over allegations that he too was sexually molested by the same scoutmaster, the Associated Press reports.

The latest set of these files, known as the “ineligible volunteer” or “perversion” files, cover a nine-year period ending in 2008—a far more recent time period than confidential files that were released last year in connection with a sexual abuse case against Scouts in Oregon.

Those files, which covered a 20-year period ending in 1985, showed that scoutmasters suspected of abuse were often kept out of leadership positions but rarely reported to law enforcement officials.

Jeffrey Anderson, lead attorney for the former Scout who won a court order for the organization’s nationwide files, said he intends to use them at trial to show that the Scouts had long known they had a “serious” sexual abuse problem. “They kept files not known to the troops and members of the public and had a body of knowledge that was not public,” he said.

Anderson declined to say what the documents show ahead of the scheduled start of Monday’s trial in St. Paul, Minn., but he did say he expects that lawyers for the Scouts will try to block the files from being introduced at trial or released publicly.

Lawyers for the Scouts could not be reached for comment. But Deron Smith, the Scouts’ public relations director, said in a statement that protecting Scouts was “of paramount importance” to the organization. He didn’t say whether the Scouts would try to block the release of the documents, but said the organization believes keeping them private would make people more likely to report abuse.

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