SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have settled a lawsuit with a man who was allegedly sexually abused by an adult volunteer eight years ago, thus keeping years of what has become known as the organization’s “perversion files” hidden from the general public.
The victim, now 20 years old, says that he was molested in 2007 when he was 13 years old. After allegedly being touched inappropriately by now 37-year-old Al Stein of Boy Scout Troop 36 of the Los Padres Council, he returned the following day with a hidden tape recorder in an attempt to record an admission to the crime. He was semi-successful as Stein asked if the boy had told his mother.
The victim did tell his mother days later, who in turn called Scout executive David Tate. But as Tate only wished to handle the incident internally, the boy’s mother called the Santa Barbara Police Department to report the crime. Stein was consequently arrested.
Stein pleaded no contest to child molestation charges in 2009 and was sentenced to probation. However, he was later sent to prison for a short time after child pornography was found on his cell phone.
In 2010, the victim filed a civil lawsuit, which states that he suffers from anxiety and depression, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder over the matter. He also stated that after the incident, he dropped out of his softball team, pulled away from his friends and would only stay in his room. The teen soon also left school and was homeschooled as he saw Stein sitting in a car outside of his school several times while the criminal case moved forward.
“I felt scared. I felt like he was coming after me,” he told the jury during recent court proceedings for the civil suit, adding that he threw up in public at one point when he saw Stein at his school.
The victim’s attorney, Tim Hale, contended during the trial that the Boy Scouts have been negligent in warning parents and others about sexual abuse within the organization.
“It wouldn’t have taken place but for a culture of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America,” Hale argued in court. “The Boy Scouts of America have an extensive history of abuse and none of it was disclosed to the parents.”
To further back his claims, Hale won access to what is known as the “perversion files,” a collection of thousands of documents that outline an untold number of sex abuse cases that date back to the 1920’s. He told the jury that they would later receive a CD with 100,000 pages to review as they deliberate the case.
But the case moved into settlement phase, and the documents contained in the “perversion files” will now likely remain hidden from public view as records not used in the trial will remain sealed.
The BSA says that the incidents outlined in the files are unacceptable to the organization.
“The behavior included in these reports runs counter to everything for which the BSA stands,” spokesman Deron Smith wrote in a statement to reporters. “While we can’t comment on the specifics related to this matter, even a single instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. We regret there have been times when the BSA’s best efforts to protect children were insufficient, and for that we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.”