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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Perversion Records May Aid Boy Scout Abuse Case

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CN) - The Boy Scouts of America must cough up records of sexual abuse claims made against adults in the organization, a Texas judge ruled.

Lawyers believe the so-called perversion records will help them prove that the Scouts are liable for the alleged abuse committed by troop leader James Hiatt. A Bexar County jury convicted Hiatt of indecency with a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child in 2008.

In a 2011 petition, an 18-year-old former scout, using the pseudonym John Adams, claimed that Hiatt sexually abused him during his time with Troop 41 in 2004 and 2005.

The San Antonio resident sued the Irving, Texas-based organization and the Alamo Area Council for negligence.

"From at least the 1960's, defendants knew that predatory sexual abusers were registering as scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters and adult volunteers for the purpose of molesting and otherwise harming scouts," the complaint says. "Based upon this actual knowledge the BSA knew for decades prior to the abuse of plaintiff that it had an institution-wide child abuse problem."

Adams said the Scouts nevertheless failed to protect its members.

"Particularly, BSA and Alamo Scouts knew that child molesters used among other things, befriending a boy, one-on-one time, and pornography to break down the boy's natural resistance to sexual touching, and had documented hundreds if not thousands of cases between 1950 and 2005 identical to or significantly similar to the facts they knew about Hiatt's interactions with John," the complaint states. "These facts were contained in BSA's secret 'IV files' (previously known since around the 1920's as the 'Red Flag Files' and later the 'Confidential Files'), documenting thousands of volunteers that had been excluded from Scouting because of substantiated reports of child molestation. BSA's knowledge of the foreseeable risk of child abuse by its employees and volunteers as a result of BSA promoting scouting activity is evidenced by its 'Barriers to Abuse Within Scouting' material. Despite this knowledge, BSA and Alamo Scouts failed to ever warn John or his mother about the known dangers of sexual molestation in scouting." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Lawyers for Adams then petitioned to have the Scouts turn over their files of "ineligible volunteers," a compendium of sexual abuse complaints the group has received over the years against adults within the organization.

Judge Martha Tanner reportedly ordered release of the files in October 2012, but the Boy Scouts obtained a partial stay from the 4th Court of Appeals of Texas.

Tanner's retirement led the appeals court to return the case to the Bexar County District Court on Jan. 2, the AP said.

Judge Laura Salinas reaffirmed a previous ruling Wednesday.

Adams is represented by Paul Mones and Kelly Clark, who are no strangers to tackling such cases. The Portland, Ore., attorneys won a nearly $20 million sexual abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts in 2010.

After receiving a favorable Oregon Supreme Court ruling, Mones and Clark publicly released Scout abuse files online in October. The documents pertain to claims from 1965 to 1985.

Courthouse News Service was among several news organizations that joined in a motion to compel Judge John Wittmayer in Oregon to keep the Boy Scouts' ineligible volunteer files in the public domain.

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