Last week we had a big win down in San Antonio, where a local judge ordered the Boy Scouts of America to produce all of its “Perversion files” related to sexual abuse in Scouting from the years 1985-2001.
This ruling comes in another sad case where, like so many others we handle, a young boy trusted his Scoutmaster and the adult betrayed that trust. The case will unfold in time, and I don’t want to comment in detail on it now; except to note that the judge’s ruling may well be the beginning of a growing trend, in which judges around the country reject BSA’s arguments that these files are not relevant to negligence claims against the organization. More specifically, we hope to prove in almost all of these cases that, as was the situation in Portland in 2010 where we proved to a jury–which responded with a verdict, including punitive damages, of nearly $20 million–that the Perversion files are direct evidence of what the BSA knew about abuse in its midst, when BSA knew it, and what BSA did, and did not do, about it.
By the way, as a result of that 2010 Portland trial, in June of this year, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the Perversion files are now public record, and should be publicly released, and the trial judge has now ordered our office to release them to the media, which we plan to do in a few weeks, after the judge does one more review of some minor details of his order. Stay tuned for that development.
So in the months ahead, look for much more about the BSA’s secret Perversion files. They will soon be made public as a result of the Oregon case, and, as we have seen in San Antonio, judges are starting to come to the conclusion that these files are relevant evidence and must be produced.
Child abuse thrives in secrecy, and secret systems are its breeding ground, so these cases, breaking the secrets of abuse in the BSA as they do, are important to the larger child abuse prevention movement, and it is my hope that because of them, kids will be safer in the future.