October 1, 2012 — With the impending release of 10,000 pages of documents from the so-called “perversion files,” Boy Scout officials are in the process of notifying police departments around the nation about pedophiles named in the documents. According to Deron Smith, spokesman for the Boy Scouts, the organization will go back through the documents and report any child molesters who were never reported in the first place. Mike Johnson, director of youth protection and a former detective, will conduct the review.
Until recently, the Boy Scouts have withheld most of the private files, which have tracked known pedophiles for more than a century. The organization claims these records have kept known pedophiles away from young children. However, a lawsuit in 2010 uncovered documents showing repeated instances where Scout leaders failed to notify police and/or parents about known child molesters, even when they had confessions. The lawsuit culminated in a $20 million verdict against the Boy Scouts in favor of several children who were victimized by an admitted child molester during the 1980s.
Earlier this year, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that files regarding incidents that occurred prior to 1971 must also be released. Once the documents are released, the names of child molesters and the Boy Scout officials who failed to report them will be public.
It is possible that the soon-to-be released documents will spark new criminal prosecutions of child molesters. Although the files go back to 1965, many states have no statue of limitations for child abuse that occurred when the child was under 16 years old. Although addresses and other identifying material will be removed from the documents, names of Scout leaders and alleged abusers will be made public.
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