A California judge ruled Friday that more than three decades of Boy Scout "perversion" files containing allegations of sex abuse within the organization can be used as evidence in a molestation case brought by a 20-year-old man that goes to trial month, including 16 years' worth of documents that have never been publicly revealed.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna D. Geck denied the Boy Scouts' motion to exclude the files as evidence and also denied motions to limit the files to those just from California and to a five-year period before the abuse took place, said plaintiff attorney Tim Hale. Geck made the ruling from the bench; a written order is expected next week.
"We've placed entire set of files onto one disc and that entire disc will be entered into evidence and the jury will have access to that disc. It's one massive single exhibit," Hale said.
The case involves a former Boy Scout volunteer who pleaded no contest to child endangerment in a molestation case in 2009.
Nicholas Heldt and Sheyanne Bane, attorneys for the Boy Scouts, did not return emails sent after business hours. An email sent to the Boy Scouts' media line was also not returned.
They argued at the hearing that the files are "not relevant to this case," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Scouts earlier in the week declined to comment on the files but said the conduct of the volunteer who triggered the civil case was unacceptable.
Files that the Boy Scouts of America kept between 1960 and 1991 already have been made public through other civil cases.
Friday's ruling involves files from 1971 to 2007. That includes previously unreleased files from 1991 to 2007 that could reveal how much the Boy Scouts have improved their efforts to protect children and report abuse after several high-profile cases.
In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Scouts to make public a trove of files from 1965 to 1985. The records showed that more than one-third of abuse allegations never were reported to police and that when authorities were told little was done most of the time.
In the Santa Barbara case, 29-year-old Scout volunteer Al Stein pulled down the pants of a 13-year-old boy and fondled him while the child was working at a Christmas tree lot, according to the complaint.
Stein, now 36, pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009; he was sentenced to two years in prison and was paroled early. Stein was most recently living in Salinas as a registered sex offender. He was banned from the Boy Scouts in 2007.
The Associated Press does not identify sex abuse victims unless they request it.
Documents that are not part of the trial will remain sealed, but the media and other interested parties could petition the judge to make them public.
That's what happened in Oregon. After the 2010 verdict, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Scouts to release the files with the victims' names redacted after The Associated Press and other media outlets sought their release.