LOS ANGELES – A civil case that involves documents detailing two decades of sexual abuse claims within the Boy Scouts of America isn't expected to return to court until next year, an attorney said Thursday.
A hearing seeking dismissal of the lawsuit has been set for January. If a Santa Barbara County judge rejects the motion by the scouting organization, a trial date will likely be set, said attorney Timothy Hale, who represents a former Scout who claims a leader sexually assaulted him at a Christmas tree fundraiser in 2007.
Earlier this year, the judge ruled that roughly 120,000 pages of internal files detailing sexual abuse allegations dating back to 1991 could be entered as evidence in the case. The judge ordered the removal of alleged victims' names
The state Supreme Court later rejected an appeal seeking to prevent the disclosure of the documents, which have not yet been made public because of a protective order.
The lawsuit contends the files will expose a "culture of hidden sexual abuse."
Known as "ineligible volunteer files," the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting.
Scouts officials have resisted releasing them and won't discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations.
The Boy Scouts have been forced in another case to turn over such files dating from 1960 to 1991. The material made public in court detailed numerous cases in which claims were made and Boy Scout officials never alerted authorities and sometimes actively sought to protect people who were accused.
In its dismissal motion in the ongoing California case, the Boy Scouts said troop leaders are not employees of the youth organization and it was not responsible for supervising them. The agency said it's up to the school, church or service club that sponsors the troop to choose leaders and oversee what they do.
Hale, however, contended the youth organization does have control over the selection of troop leaders.
"The idea that there is separation between the national and local level is a mirage," Hale said.
The Boy Scouts also argued that it had no knowledge or warning that the leader, Al Stein, posed a threat to children.
Although there was some questionable behavior by Stein, incidents were never reported to the local council or the Boy Scouts, according to the motion.
The ex-Scout whose family filed the lawsuit was 13 when he said he was sexually assaulted by Stein, who was later convicted of felony child endangerment.