Some local numbers starting to take shape from the release this week of the so-called Boy Scout "Perversion Files." According to reports, there are 14 documented cases from Western New York that involved child sexual abuse at the hands of Boy Scout leaders dating between 1965 and 1985.
The 14,500 pages of Scout files, from 1959-1985, were posted Thursday on the website of Kelly Clark, the Portland attorney who used the files as evidence in a 2010 lawsuit he won against the Scouts. The website got more than 200,000 hits within the first few hours of the files' posting, crashing the site.
Clark said his firm has received about four dozen emails from people about the documents. About half came from people who say they were abused when they were in the Scouts and were interested in filing lawsuits. Some of the emails have given details about alleged abuse, Clark said. There are also emails from people who tell of other alleged perpetrators who are not in the files.
"We had many people say thank you for posting the documents," Clark said. The Scouts have said they plan to review every file from 1965 to the present and, in cases where it's unclear whether the incident was reported to police, the Scouts said they'll contact authorities.
Deron Smith, spokesman for the Scouts, said Thursday the organization is currently looking through those files to find cases of "good-faith suspicions" so they can be reported to police. The Scout files are filled with unsubstantiated allegations.
In their own review of the files that were released on Thursday, the Scouts found that law enforcement had been involved in about two-thirds of the cases. The organization is going through the remainder to find cases where there seem to be good reasons to alert law authorities. The Scouts have apologized for not following up. The files were created for the purpose of registering Scout leaders, Smith said, and were considered internal, confidential documents, which is why they weren't always shared with authorities.
Attorney Paul Mones, Clark's colleague, said uploading the files "democratized" information that was only available to lawyers and the Scouts."It's a testament to the new generation of communication," Mones said. The files have been maintained by the Scouts since soon after their founding in 1910. They consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases.
The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations. People paging through the files would find both. Clark says there are undoubtedly some people in the files who were wrongly accused, and the Scouts point out that many cases of abuse were dealt with properly.