The California Supreme Court has rejected a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) petition in a Santa Barbara molestation case, meaning that 30,000 pages of so-called “perversion files” can be opened to the public.
The files, dating to 1991 and containing reports of Scout-related molestations from around the country and long kept secret by the scouting organization, are key to the case, in which Santa Barbara attorney Tim Hale seeks unspecified punitive damages. No trial date has been set.
BSA argued that the files were irrelevant to the case, which involves a Santa Barbara family suing the Scouts because a volunteer, Al Stein, molested their 13-year-old son at a 2007 Christmas tree sales lot. The volunteer pleaded no contest, served a prison term, and is a registered sex offender. Hale seeks punitive damages on grounds that the BSA kept the files secret for many years, keeping parents unaware that their children were vulnerable in an organization where molestation occurs more frequently than the public realizes.
The Supreme Court did not comment on why it did not hear the BSA case. The scouting organization petitioned the Supreme Court after the Second District Court of Appeal last year rejected a BSA appeal, pointing out that the national molestation files were already “in the public domain and are readily accessible on the Internet with Social Security numbers redacted.” Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna Geck ordered the files released last January.
Hale told The Santa Barbara Independent on Monday that he would meet BSA attorneys to discuss when the files would be available. All BSA “perversion files” should be turned over immediately to law enforcement, Hale said. In many cases officials were never notified of criminal acts by Scout leaders who are “still out there” in public, never prosecuted, and likely abusing other youngsters, he said. Often the BSA is the only organization which has information about the molestations, he said.