AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A San Antonio judge has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to produce as part of a civil lawsuit the secret files the organization keeps to prevent accused pedophiles from becoming employees of or volunteers for the organization.
District Judge Martha Tanner issued the order Tuesday for the Boy Scouts to turn over its "ineligible volunteer" files created between 1985 and 2011. The suit was filed by a former scout who was sexually assaulted by an assistant scoutmaster in 2004 and 2005. The scoutmaster was subsequently convicted and is serving 60 years in prison.
The victim has not been identified in court filings but is a Texas resident in his early 20s, said Paul Mones, the victim's Oregon-based attorney. He is suing the Boy Scouts and its Alamo Area Council in San Antonio for unspecified damages, alleging both failed to protect him.
The files contain names of children who were sexually assaulted and names of alleged pedophiles. But some of the allegations are unsubstantiated or relate to cases where no one was charged.
Mones said the judge's order compels release of the files, but only after the names of any scouts or persons reporting alleged sexual abuse have been redacted. That process could take months — and any appeal of the judge's decision will delay it even further.
Asked Friday if the Boy Scouts planned to appeal, spokesman Deron Smith said he could not comment on ongoing legislation.
"But Boy Scouts of America is saddened by any incident of abuse, and we extend our sympathies to all such victims," he said in an emailed statement.
Mones said the former assistant scoutmaster in his client's case has a file in the "ineligible volunteer" archives, but that it wasn't opened until he was charged with criminal wrongdoing.
"The purpose of the request of the files was to show the Boy Scouts' level of knowledge of the problem of child sexual abuse in scouting," Mones said. "This man's name was not in the files prior to the abuse, but they speak to the larger knowledge of the Boy Scouts."
Smith said that "since the 1920s, the BSA has kept ineligible volunteer files solely to protect youth by helping to keep unfit individuals out of scouting."
He said the files are one of a variety of methods — including "background checks, comprehensive training programs and safety policies" — the organization uses to protect youths.