I-Team Uncovers Boy Scouts Of America's 'Secret Files'
10News Investigation Reveals Organization Has List That Documents Alleged Sex Abuse Within Scouting
Last Updated: 475 days ago
A disturbing list has been found buried deep inside one of America's most trusted youth organizations.
The 10News I-Team has uncovered what critics of the Boy Scouts of America call "the perversion files."
This is the first time a media organization has gained access to the files pertaining to San Diego. The files, which the Boy Scouts of America call "the ineligible volunteer list," often document alleged sexual abuse within scouting.
"He molested me every week of every month," former scout Matt Stewart said.
Stewart said he was molested by his scout leader from the time he was seven until he turned 18.
"I'll never forget his bright lights shining from his car through the window and he would knock on the door," Stewart said. "He would molest me in the basement of my parents' house while my parents were upstairs."
Stewart, who is now in his 40s, never said a word.
"He told me he would kill my family," Stewart recounted.
The Boy Scouts of America's own documentation shows the organization knew about Stewart's scout leader; Bruce Phelps. Phelps admitted he had a history of molesting boys.
Stewart said it wasn't until he was living in San Diego that he decided to tell someone about the abuse by his Seattle scout leader.
He told Seattle-based attorney Tim Kosnoff of the abuse.
"Scandal can hurt a lot of organizations, but a scandal of this sort, because it is a youth organization, could be devastating to the Boy Scouts of America," Kosnoff said.
Kosnoff successfully sued and forced the Boy Scouts of America to reveal a portion its secret files, which identifies alleged pedophiles that were eventually banned from scouting.
The secret files include cases across the U.S. dating back to 1947.
One example comes from Brooklyn, N.Y., and details how a scout was "molested and killed."
Another file from Greenville, S.C., documents how an exiled scout leader was "successful 6 times" in reapplying in other states.
"In almost all these cases, there were adults that knew or suspected that something was wrong, but they somehow felt it wasn't their responsibility to act upon it," Kosnoff said.
The scout's secret list includes at least 36 incidents in San Diego County.
One incident allegedly occurred at the Lost Valley Scout Camp East of Escondido at the hands of a scout leader named Richard Turley.
In 1975, Turley made headlines when he stole a plane in Fallbrook, kidnapping an 11-year-old scout. He was arrested and the boy returned safely to his family. Turley spent the next year and a half at Patton State Mental Hospital, where the state classified him as a "mentally disordered sex offender."
Turely resurfaced in scouting, in San Diego County, volunteering at the Lost Valley Scout Camp.
The Scouts' records say in 1979 three boys claimed "there had been molestation" but their parents "agreed not to press charges if Turley would leave" scouting.
When Turley did return to his native Canada, he was able to once again enter scouting and once again find new victims.
A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Los Angeles Times joint investigation into Canadian scouting focused on Turley and forced Scouts Canada to deal with its own secrets. (Click here for the CBC story. To read the Los Angeles Times story, click here.)
In a letter to the Canadian Broadcasters Corporation, Scouts Canada denied it kept secret files but outed its American counterpart, writing: "Unlike Boy Scouts of America, Scouts Canada has no history of keeping so called secret lists."
"I think they're absolutely petrified that child sexual abuse scandal could overcome the Boy Scouts of America," Kosnoff said.
The Boy Scouts of America admits to keeping a secret list, but the organization would not agree to an on-camera interview. A spokesman, however, issued the following statement:
"Youth Protection is of paramount importance to the BSA and even one incident of abuse is too many. We are saddened by any incident of abuse and extend our sympathies to the victims. Recognizing that youth protection requires sustained vigilance, BSA has continued to develop and enhance its efforts to protect youth. BSA has established a multi-tiered Youth Protection approach focused on effective volunteer screening, education and training, and clear policies to protect youth. Numerous experts have recognized that the education and training programs protecting Scouts today are among the best in the youth serving community.
Thousands of men are involved in scouting, and most mentor their scouts in a positive way, but Kosnoff believes the men who did molest young scouts should be punished.
"It's too easy to look the other way, but if they hear the sound of the jail door hinge in the back of their mind, I think that's what's going to bring about change," he said.
After more than 30 years as a national scout executive, Douglas Smith Jr. heard the sound of a jail door close in 2005, when he was convicted of trafficking child pornography.
Smith was the Boy Scouts of America's national director of programs.
"This is not just about a few bad apples," Stewart said.
The Boy Scouts of America later acknowledged that its practices of keeping the disturbing behavior of some scout leaders a secret was not the right thing to do.
"The protection of youth is a paramount importance to us," said Robert Mazzuca, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America, in a statement in a YouTube video. "These files are just one part of a stringent set of youth protection policies and procedures."
*Click here to watch the video statement on YouTube.
The Oregon Supreme Court recently ordered the secret files be released to the New York Times, Associated Press and other media organizations. However, it is currently fighting the release of more secret records in a Santa Barbara case that the I-Team is closely following.