The Boy Scouts of America settled a sex abuse case Thursday involving a 20-year-old California man who was molested by a Scout volunteer in 2007 -- a decision that will keep years' worth of "perversion" files detailing sex abuse allegations secret from the public.
The announcement of the settlement in the Santa Barbara case came after three days of trial. The terms were confidential at the Boy Scouts' request, said Tim Hale, the plaintiff's attorney.
"I can't go into details about the number, but it was a great result," Hale said.
Hale had won the right to use the "perversion" files as trial evidence to try to show the Boys Scouts were negligent by not properly training, educating and warning parents, Scouts and volunteers about the dangers of sexual abuse.
He told jurors in his opening statement that they would receive a CD with 100,000 pages of internal documents from 1971 to 2007 during their deliberations. Many of the files have not been seen outside the Scouts.
Hale said Thursday that the settlement will keep the files from being made public. Past settlements in similar cases in Texas and Minnesota also kept them secret.
The plaintiff's attorneys had been planning to use up to 100 "egregious" files next week while cross-examining witnesses and eliciting testimony from experts, Hale said.
Two files were discussed in open court in the first three days of trial, he added.
The plaintiff's law firm has the remaining files but they are sealed by a judge's protective order and can't be made public or shared with other attorneys.
In an emailed statement, the Boy Scouts said the Scouts were "safer because those files exist" and said in 2012 the Boy Scouts of America National Council reviewed all the files from 1965 to the present and reported to authorities any files that did not clearly indicate a prior report had been made to police.
"The behavior included in these reports runs counter to everything for which the BSA stands," Deron Smith, the Boy Scouts spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
"While we can't comment on the specifics related to this matter, even a single instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable," it said. "We regret there have been times when the BSA's best efforts to protect children were insufficient, and for that we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families."
Smith did not immediately respond to an email seeking further comment.
Files that the Boy Scouts of America kept between 1960 and 1991 already have been made public through other civil cases.
The release of the more recent files -- from 1991 to 2007 -- could have revealed how much the Scouts improved their efforts to protect children and report abuse after several high-profile cases and the implementation of a youth protection policy in the late 1980s. Previous large verdicts against the Scouts focused on cases where alleged abuse occurred before the policy was put in place.
In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Scouts to make public a trove of files from 1965 to 1985. The records showed that more than one-third of abuse allegations never were reported to police and that even when authorities were told, little was done most of the time.
Those documents came to light after a jury in 2010 imposed a nearly $20 million penalty against the Scouts in a molestation case in Portland, Oregon, that dated to the early 1980s.
The California case alleged that a volunteer named Al Stein, now 37, pulled down the plaintiff's pants when he was 13 and fondled him while the two worked in a Christmas tree lot.
Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009 and was sentenced to probation but later did a short stint in prison after authorities found images of nude children on his cellphone.
He was last living in Salinas as a registered sex offender and did not attend the trial. A hearing is set Monday to determine his share of liability in the case.