PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland-area law firm on Thursday released thousands of documents from the Boy Scouts of America’s secret "perversion file." The trove of information includes several cases involving local volunteers who were banned from scouting because they were suspected of sexually abusing children.
The newly released files cover the years 1965 through 1985 – and were first presented as evidence in a landmark 2010 Oregon civil suit, filed by Portland attorney Kelly Clark on behalf of a former scout who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s. A jury awarded the victim $18.5 million, concluding that the Boy Scouts knew about the problem and failed to protect him.
Earlier this year, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled those files should be made public. After months of objections and redactions, the Scouts and Clark released them on Thursday.
In many cases, instances of alleged abuse were not reported to authorities – the documents instead represent suspicions that scouting leaders felt were strong enough to be acted upon. Clark’s law firm, the source of today’s release, has issued a disclaimer about the files.
KATU has compiled a list of all the volunteers from Oregon and Washington named in the files released today. Click here to download the full list as a PDF with links to each file.
We’ve also summarized some of those cases, to illustrate some of the suspect behavior and the official response:
File 0492 – James F. Hogan, Portland, Ore.
BSA officials in 1974 confronted James F. Hogan, after receiving reports that he’d been kissing boys in his troop, sponsored by the Portland Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was banned from scouting – but only temporarily; he was reinstated with the support of church officials, who could not find any proof of the allegations against him.
But Hogan was banned for good in 1990, after he abused two boys he met at the church and pleaded guilty to sodomy. Hogan was named in a separate lawsuit filed by Clark last year.
File 0563 – Clyde A. Brock, Oregon City, Ore.
Files show that Clyde A. Brock was dismissed from scouting based on claims that he had inappropriate “relationships” with two boys while serving as an Assistant Scoutmaster; he had been previously reprimanded for taking nude pictures of scouts and then displaying them in his home and showing them to other boys. Brock’s behavior was not then reported to police. Brock died in 2001 at the age of 86.
File 0556 – Gregory Benson, Portland, Ore.
Gregory Benson was named in a $5.5 million lawsuit last year, filed by a former scout who says Benson abused him in the 1970s. The victim, identified as ‘Z. K.’ in the lawsuit filed by Clark’s firm, claims he was about 14 or 15 years old when Benson – a leader in the Sea Scouts program based on Marine Drive in North Portland — fondled and otherwise sexually violated him. Benson’s activities were not reported to authorities. Benson has since died.
Man named in secret files regrets actions but says he didn't have sex with boy
Michael Sullivan is now a computer engineer and lives in Portland. His name is among the 1,200 nationwide accused of abusing, or trying to abuse, young boys. When contacted by a KATU News reporter Thursday, Sullivan was surprised about what the reporter had learned.
A 1983 internal memo described Sullivan's actions when he was 23 years old. According to the memo, he "did attempt to have a sexual relationship with a staff member who is only 16 years of age."
"I jokingly said with a kid, 'Do you want to fool around?'" was Sullivan's response to the memo.
When asked who would make a joke like that to a 16-year-old, Sullivan said, "Well, somebody who made a bad mistake."
But he said he "never, ever engaged in sexual activity with a youngster. I never touched him; I never kissed him; I never hugged him. Nothing."
He said if he could he "would apologize again. I apologized then."
Back then the Boy Scouts kicked him out, although the organization never reported his actions to anyone else.
Now Sullivan said he worries he'll be a target for a question that never went farther than his asking.
"I don't think that lumping me in with people who routinely go after 11 and 12 year olds, 14 year olds, is really fair," he said.
He said he now partly fears for his life.
The attorneys who fought to get the documents released admitted there could be innocent names released in the files. But they said they feel child abuse thrives on secrecy that cannot be allowed.
Those attorneys are now calling on Congress to do an audit of the Boy Scouts of America to find out if the organization is following through on the policy changes it claims and to learn what kind of files, if any, are still being kept.
Disclaimer from the lawyer who released the Boy Scouts "perversion files":
The information contained in the ineligible volunteer (“IV”) files is being made public pursuant to a court order from The Honorable John Wittmayer, Multnomah County Circuit Judge for the State of Oregon, in the case of Lewis vs. Boy Scouts of America, Case No. 0710-11294. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the ruling on June 14th, 2012.
By the terms of Judge Wittmayer’s order, the names and contact information of persons identified as victims of sexual abuse and those that reported the abuse were redacted. If the person identified as an abuse reporter was a professional Scouter, i.e., an individual employed by the Boy Scouts of America or an affiliate, then the name was not redacted.
The information in the IV files concerns allegations of child sexual abuse. In a number of the cases, the allegations were later substantiated by court proceedings. However, in a great many cases no such substantiation ever occurred. Consequently, the law firms of O’Donnell Clark and Crew LLP and Paul Mones, and any agent or representative thereof, make no representations or suggestions that any of the allegations in these files are in every case true. In fact, we are in no position to verify or attest to the truth of these allegations as they were compiled by the Boy Scouts of America. The incidents reported in these documents attest to notice of potential child abuse given to the Boy Scouts of America and its affiliates and their response to that notice.