Boy Scout leaders who allegedly molested children in Southern California and across the nation were shielded by authorities ranging from police chiefs to pastors, according to newly opened confidential files compiled from 1959 to 1985.
The 14,500 pages of secret "perversion files" released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court show that victims of suspected sexual predators suffered in silence while authorities tried to protect the Scouting brand.
The new files contain details on proven molesters as well as unsubstantiated allegations, and include nearly five dozen names of Boy Scout "ineligible volunteers" in Southern California.
They show eight in Los Angeles, three in Long Beach and one each in places such as Upland, San Gabriel and Twentynine Palms.
Dennis McCarty, parent of a son who had been a Scout in Pack 24 in Redlands, said it was upsetting that the incidents had happened, but scouting had taken appropriate steps to keep it from happening again.
"The Youth Protection Program requires that every adult leader's background information is checked," he said. "Also the Boy Scouts adopted two-deep leadership, which requires two certified adult leaders to accompany scouts."
The new files are a window on a much larger collection of files the Boy Scouts of America began putting together soon after their founding in 1910.
At a news conference Thursday, Portland attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.
"You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children," said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.
The files were shown to a jury in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the files should be made public. After months of objections and redactions, the Scouts and Clark released them.
Numerous Boy Scout officials in Southern California either didn't return phone calls seeking comment or were reluctant to speak at all.
Glendora Troop 483 parent and publicity person Cheryl Becker said she didn't know if she was allowed to talk about the matter.
"The subject hasn't come up," she said.
Dave Wallach, Scout master of Troop 710 St. Matthews in Hacienda Heights said he "really doesn't know anything about it," adding that he didn't have time to comment.
Kevin Garcia, Boy Scouts of America District Program chairman of Valle Del Sol, which covers Covina, Glendora, Charter Oak, La Verne, San Dimas and Claremont, did not return calls.
Others officials with the organization referred reporters to the national office in Dallas.
"We have always cooperated fully with any requests from law enforcement and welcome any additional examination by authorities of Scouting policies, training, and files to learn from our long-standing Youth Protection efforts," said Spokesman Ken Fields, in a statement.
"In fact, next month in Atlanta, the BSA is hosting a Youth Protection Symposium in cooperation with other youth-serving organizations where nationally recognized third-party experts will discuss and share best practices."
The new files consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations
Many of the files released on Thursday have been written about before, but this is the first time the earliest ones have been put in the public domain.
The 1959-85 files show that on many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions -- the reason they were collected in the first place.
In many instances -- more than a third, according to the Scouts' own count -- police weren't told about the alleged abuse. And there is little mention in the files of concern for the welfare of Scouts who were allegedly abused by their leaders.
But there are numerous documents showing compassion for suspected abusers, who were often times sent to psychiatrists or pastors to get help.
Fields said there is nothing more important than the safety of Scouts.
"There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong," Fields said in a statement.
"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."
Those who treat sexual abuse victims said in most cases, children know the alleged abuser.
"With children, probably 87 percent of the time, it's somebody they know, love or trust," said Candy Stallings, executive director of San Bernardino County Sexual Assault Services.
Stallings said in many cases, children don't believe they've been abused, because they weren't in pain, or they consider the alleged abuser to be a friend. She said abusers use intimidation, or convince their victims that they are "in this together" and shouldn't tell anyone.
"I have had adults that come to me and say, 'I guess I was sexually abused, but it never hurt, I never felt abused and the person is more loving to me than my own (family),"' Stallings said.
Sometimes children become confused when their parents take issue with the alleged sexual abuse, because at a young age, they don't understand the impact of what happened to them, Stallings said.
Stallings, who has worked with the sexually abused for 25 years, said it is important for parents to not make their children feel guilty by asking them questions such as why they waited so long to talk about the issue.
"I would say, 'first of all this is not your fault, we love you no matter what,' " Stallings said. "And I would not ask anymore questions. I would contact law enforcement immediately and I would let the professionals ask the questions."
The Associated Press and staff writers Michel Nolan and Brian Sumers contributed to this report.
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