After years of legal actions, the Boy Scouts of America has made public a file that its leaders undoubtedly wish it never had to release, or even maintain.
The BSA’s so-called “perversion file,” a confidential list of men who were reported to the organization’s national headquarters for various sexual or other improper interactions with Scouts, was released last week as a result of a lawsuit by victims of various Scouting volunteers in Portland, Ore.
The organization has been maintaining a list of “ineligible volunteers” since 1910. The files released so far document cases from 1965 to 1985. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are asking for files after 1985 to be released, and a judge in Texas ordered such a release on Oct. 4, but the BSA is expected to file an appeal against that release.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs also released a list of cases before 1965 and after 1985, but that list does not include the names of the accused. Of those additional cases, 34 were from Alabama, and one case was in Gardendale in 1992.
The released records document 1,247 cases, though some are duplicates. Of those, nine are from Alabama, and two are listed from Birmingham troops. One of those is duplicated with a troop in Pinson.
The first man was involved with troops in Birmingham and Pinson. He was reported not for activity that was directly involved with Scouting, but instead during his work as a youth wrestling coach in the 1970s and 80s. The man was accused by a family from Indianapolis of possibly having improper conduct with an 11-year-old wrestler while they stayed with the family on their way from Birmingham to a tournament in Lincoln, Neb., in March 1982. The man was apparently serving as the youngster’s coach.
The coach’s van had motor trouble, and the family took him and the youngster in while the car was being repaired. During their stay, the family told officials with the Crossroads Council of the BSA that there was evidence the man made sexual advances toward the boy, and also that the two slept in the same bed.
The Crossroads Council reported the incident to the Birmingham Area Council, not knowing whether the man was associated with Scouting. The local council found that he had been associated with a Pinson troop for one year and a Birmingham troop for six years. The charges were listed as unsubstantiated, but the man resigned in 1984, one week before his name was placed in what the BSA called its Confidential File. An online search shows no record of any criminal action taken against him, and that he still lives at the same address listed in the report. (For those reasons, The North Jefferson News is withholding his name, even though it is shown in the released files.)
The second man was accused in 1968 of making advances toward a boy in his Birmingham troop. He was an assistant scoutmaster at the time of his resignation. A father of five who worked in the circulation department of a Birmingham newspaper, the man had been involved in Scouting for 16 years before his removal. He had won two awards from the Birmingham Area Council during that time, two of his sons were Eagle Scouts, and another son was a member of his troop.
This man was implicated by a boy who wrote a note to his parents, because he was afraid to talk about the matter face to face. The boy said that the scoutmaster had somehow been affected by an incident he described as “the cave-in at Big Ditch.” He concluded the note with, “I am doing this so nobody else will have too [sic].”
The man was not charged, but apparently resigned voluntarily. Aged 42 at the time, the man is shown to still be living in his 80s, not far from the address listed in the file. (Again, we are not releasing his name since no legal action was taken.)
Wayne Perry, president of the BSA, said in a statement quoted by CNN: “Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families. While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals’ actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse.”
The file release was ordered by the Oregon Supreme Court on request of news media in Portland.