The Boy Scouts of America has released almost 15,000 pages of secret documents about potential pedophiles that either volunteered with the Boy Scouts or applied to work within the organization.
Among the files are 16 documents with information about allegations of molestation or inappropriate behavior that occurred in troops here in San Diego County.
The incidents in our area date from 1963 to 2004. The documents do not identify alleged perpetrators by name but instead, assign them a number. No troop numbers are identified.
In El Cajon there are 5 files. One file involved an incident in 1964 while the other four was concerning one person in 2002.
Coronado is involved in one document dated 1969.
One of the documents involves a troop in Chula Vista in 1975.
An individual identified in a file from 1990 in Julian was also named in a separate incident in San Diego the same year.
An individual associated with a Poway troop is identified in two documents from 1993 and a troop in San Marcos is included in one file dated 1994.
In 2000, there was one file involving an Escondido troop and two identified as from Santa Ysabel.
The last local incident in the document release was in La Mesa in 2004.
The entire database was released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court.
San Diego attorney Irwin Zalkin, whose firm has negotiated more than $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases, said the release of documents kept for close to 100 years is significant.
“They had been arguing in all the litigations around the country that they just didn’t know then what they know today,” Zalkin said.
“When all along, they had more information about perpetrators and child sexual abuse than probably the general public,” he said.
Zalkin said the organization was more concerned about a lack of volunteers and a lack of participants if the information contained in the file was made public.
The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, 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.
The Associated Press obtained copies of the files weeks in advance of Thursday's release and conducted an extensive review of them.
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 Portland attorney Kelly Clark released them.
In many instances — more than a third, according to the Scouts' own count — police weren't told about the reports of abuse. And even when they were, sometimes local law enforcement still did nothing, seeking to protect the name of Scouting over their victims.
The documents reveal that on many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions — the reason why they were collected in the first place. But the files are also littered with horrific accounts of alleged pedophiles who were able to continue in Scouting because of pressure from community leaders and local Scouts officials.
The files also document other troubling patterns. There is little mention in the files of concern for the welfare of Scouts who were abused by their leaders, or what was done for the victims.
But there are numerous documents showing compassion for alleged abusers, who were often times sent to psychiatrists or pastors to get help.
The Scouts instituted mandatory reporting for suspected child abuse in 2010. They have incorporated other measures, such as a "two-deep" requirement that children be accompanied by at least two adults at all times, and made strides in their efforts to combat pedophilia within their ranks.