US sex-abuse trial to unveil Boy Scout ‘perversion’ files
SANTA BARBARA, California (AP) — The sexual abuse of a 13-year-old Boy Scout by an adult volunteer was part of a “sordid history of child sexual abuse” within the organization that has been documented internally by the Boy Scouts for nearly a century, the victim’s attorney said Monday in his opening statement at a civil trial.
The scout, now 20, has sued the Boy Scouts of America and a local scouting council for punitive damages after being molested by a volunteer leader in 2007.
The lawsuit alleges that Scouts volunteer 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. The boy suffered bruises and a laceration in the assault and still suffers from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder that prevent him from leaving the house, his attorney, Tim Hale said.
The plaintiff testified Monday that he was afraid and in shock when Stein pushed him violently against a tree, ripped down his pants and touched him.
He claims in his negligence lawsuit that the national organization failed to educate and warn parents and volunteers about the dangers of sex abuse.
Hale, won the right to draw from more than 30 years of “perversion” files kept by the Scouts as evidence at trial to support those allegations.
The files cleared for use by Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna D. Geck include 16 years of documents — from 1991 to 2007— that have never been seen before.
Hale told the jury when the case is over they will receive a CD of 100,000 pages of files to review while they deliberate.
Hale said in his opening remarks that the Scouts recorded between 9,000 and 10,000 such files between 1920 and 2007. He intends to use documents dating from 1971 to 2007 to build his case.
An attorney for the Boy Scouts countered that the “perversion” files were created to keep children safe by maintaining a master list of people ineligible to volunteer with the Scouts.
The organization acknowledges mistakes in the way sex abuse allegations were handled in the past but now has a robust child protection program and parent training, attorney Nicholas Heldt said in his opening statement to jurors.
From 2003 to 2007, a key period for the lawsuit, only 27 adult volunteers were kicked out annually for sexually abusing Scouts, although there were at least 1.5 million volunteers nationally, he said.
When the plaintiff was abused, the youth protection training worked because the boy recognized the abuse, resisted and told his mother, Heldt said. She, in turn, told local Scout leaders who informed law enforcement.
The victim’s name is being used in court but The Associated Press does not generally name victims of sexual abuse.
Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009 and was sentenced to probation. He served time in prison after authorities discovered photos of naked children on his cellphone.
He was paroled early, however, and was last living in Salinas, California, as a registered sex offender.