Our co-counsel Kelly Clark and Paul Mones posted a public database of the Boy Scout perversion files from 1965 to 1985. We greatly appreciate and admire the significant effort made by Kelly, Paul, and their legal team to bring sunshine to this issue and these files, including their record setting verdict against the Boy Scouts in 2010.
If you survived abuse, please contact us to see if the Scout leader or volunteer is in the files. If the name of a particular person does not appear in the files, please do not be discouraged from exploring your options. Many children were abused by Scout leaders whose names do not appear in these files, and we know that the Boy Scouts destroyed many files in the past. The person’s name does not have to be in the files for you to have a potential claim against the Boy Scouts.
This page provides a summary of the Boy Scout “perversion files” because a lot of people have contacted us with questions about those files. If you want to learn more, please contact us, and also check out our blog where we will be posting more useful information for abuse survivors and attorneys who need help prosecuting claims against the Boy Scouts.
What Are the Boy Scout “Perversion Files”?
In the 1920s, the Boy Scouts of America started keeping a list of men who they wanted to keep out of Scouting, including men who had been accused of acts of “perversion” with children. When an adult volunteered to become a Scout leader, his name was checked to see if it was on the list. By 1935, the list contained more than 2,919 men who the Boy Scouts declared unfit to volunteer in Scouts.
While this system kept many sexual predators out of Scouting once their abuse of a child was disclosed, the Boy Scouts did nothing to warn children or their parents that literally thousands of men were volunteering with Scouts in order to molest children. Or perhaps more importantly, how they were using their position in Scouts to groom children, isolate them from their families, and abuse them.
Instead, the Boy Scouts kept telling Scouts and parents that Scouts leaders could always be trusted and that Scouting activities were completely safe. It was not until the mid-1980s that the Boy Scouts started to change their policies by informing Scouts and parents of the danger of sexual abuse in Scouting.
How Do You Know About the Perversion Files?
In about 2004, we obtained a court order that required the Boy Scouts to produce a substantial volume of the perversion files. The Boy Scouts appealed that order to the Washington Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court’s order. Since that time we have represented many survivors of Boy Scout abuse, and in each case we use the files to show that the Boy Scouts decided their reputation as a “safe organization” was more important than changing their policies and procedures in order to protect Scouts.
What Proof Is There the Boy Scouts Knew of the Problem?
For many years, the Boy Scouts had one or two executives who were responsible for managing the perversion files. Part of their job was to make sure the Boy Scouts had proof of a “perversion” activity before a person’s name was added to their secret list, which is why the perversion files contain thousands of accounts of horrific sexual abuse of children. It is unclear why the Boy Scouts have claimed in the past that they didn’t know about the danger of child sexual abuse — their own executives were responsible for documenting the problem.
For example, on December 4, 1972, one of the executives sent a “personal and confidential” letter from BSA’s national headquarters to “all Scout executives.” In the letter, he discusses the importance of the file system but warns his fellow Scout executives to keep the system confidential “because of the misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed.” In other words, BSA was sounding the internal alarm, but was doing nothing to warn Scouts or their parents that BSA knew it had a serious problem on its hands and that its policies and procedures simply were not working.
If I Was Abused, Can I See the Perversion Files?
Maybe. While some of the files are now public, some are not. If the file regarding your case is not under a protective order we can share it with you. However, for obvious reasons, the Boy Scouts have vigorously tried to keep the files confidential, so some files are governed by protective orders that prevent us from disclosing them to the public.