The Oregon Supreme Court has ordered that confidential documents related to child sexual abuse accusations among the Boy Scouts of America be unsealed and released to the public.
According to an L.A. Times report this week, there are more than 1,200 documents that fall under this order and it is considered “the first step toward publicly lifting the veil on 20 years of alleged child sexual abuse by troop leaders and others within the organization.”
These documents were used in an Oregon case against the Boy Scouts of America in which one man was awarded $20 million as a victim of sexual abuse during this time with the group as a child in the 1980s. These files, containing nearly 20,000 pages of evidence, contained records of alleged child sexual abuse committed by Scout masters, assistant scout masters, and others from 1965 for a period of about two decades. During the case against the organization that led to a 2010 verdict against it, these records remained sealed.
However, now that it appears these documents will be released to the public, it could lead to a flurry of new accusations against the organization to materialize. It is believed the documents will expose the veil of secrecy the Boy Scouts held for decades regarding accusations of sexual abuse among its leaders, and that it acted just as other groups did who stand similarly accused. Rather than confronting the issue at the time of accusations, the Boy Scouts allegedly began shuffling leaders around the country, or allowed Scout masters to serve other areas despite being alleged to have committed these crimes elsewhere.
Several media outlets petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court to have the records unsealed, a move that was staunchly opposed by Boy Scouts of America. Among the media actively seeking the documents were The Oregonian newspaper, New York Times, and Oregon Public Broadcasting. The Court ruled that names of victims and accusers be redacted before they are released to the public, the L.A. Times report adds.
The Scouts posted a video response to the Court decision at its Web site, including a message from its Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca. In it, he said, “”We’ve kept these files confidential because we believe that victims deserve protection and that confidentiality encourages prompt reporting of questionable behavior. It removes the fear of retribution and assures the victims and their families that they receive the privacy that they deserve.”
An attorney representing the Plaintiff in the 2010 case against Boy Scouts of America said that most victims of sexual abuse during their time with the organization as a child never reported the crimes. The case then was filed on behalf of a Portland, Ore., scout who said argued the organization allowed a known child molester serve in a leadership role with a different troop after being shuffled from the troop where allegations originally surfaced against him.
There are several other cases filed against Boy Scouts of America across the country and many of them depend on the evidence that’s to be released with this latest decision.