Confidential files on Boy Scouts sex abuse released

SAN DIEGO - Some confidential files the Boy Scouts of America kept on men they suspected of child abuse were released Thursday.

On Thursday, attorney Kelly Clark opened the files in his Portland office. He sued the Boy Scouts of America after his client was molested by a Scout leader. The suit led to Thursday's release of select files.

"Child abuse thrives in secrecy," Clark said. "Secret systems is where it breeds and these secrets are out."

The files released Thursday, some as old as 50 years, contain thousands of cases of sexual abuse inside American scouting. However, the files opened only represent a small number of the total files still held by the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts have been keeping what they call "ineligible volunteer files" since the 1920s.

Earlier this year, a Team 10 investigation found 35 specific cases of abuse in San Diego contained in some of the scout files. One case involved John Atwood, who was accused and convicted of molesting a scout in a San Diego hotel room.

Former San Diego sex crimes prosecutor Phyllis Shess prosecuted several cases involving scouts, including Atwood's case. She said the Boy Scouts of America never alerted her to allegations of abuse.

Team 10 also talked to Santa Barbara attorney Tim Hale, who is asking a California court to force the Scouts to expose the most recent files -- files from 1991 to the present. He said these recent files prove the Scouts keep abuse allegations secret.

"We are talking about hundreds if not thousands of unidentified men who should be registered sex offenders who are roaming free in society," Hale said.

In anticipation of the release of the files on Thursday, Boy Scouts of America Chief Executive Wayne Brock admitted mistakes.

"There have still been instances where people have abused their position in scouting to hurt children and our efforts to protect them or respond were insufficient," Brock said. "For that we are deeply sorry. We extend our sympathies to any and all victims."

The Scripps National Investigative Team has conducted a six-month investigation and will continue to delve into the files.

*To view the released files, click here.

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