Trial: abuse expert says Scouts put boys at risk

By ABBY HAIGHT Associated Press Writer
Posted: 03/24/2010 07:47:52 PM MDT

PORTLAND, Ore. The Boy Scouts of America showed reckless indifference to protecting young Scouts when it kept confidential two decades worth of files on suspected molesters among its troop leaders, a psychologist testified Wednesday as part of a $14 million lawsuit against the organization.

Despite creating a remarkably in-depth file about sexual abusers, the Boy Scouts failed to warn parents or tell authorities about suspected or confessed pedophiles, said Gary Schoener, a national expert and consultant on sexual misconduct in the clergy, health care and other segments of society.

Some boys may have become victims because of the silence, he told the Multnomah County Circuit Court jury.

“The Boy Scouts had the information, had the knowledge, had the ability to make a difference,” Schoener said. “And they didn’t.”

The lawsuit was brought by a 37-year-old Klamath Falls man who was abused by an assistant Scoutmaster, Timur Dykes, in the early 1980s. Dykes was convicted three times between 1983 and 1994 of sexually abusing boys, most of them Scouts. He acknowledged abusing the plaintiff in a video deposition played for jurors last week.

The Associated Press does not identify sexual assault victims as a matter of policy.

The Boy Scouts began keeping secret files on suspected molesters among its adult volunteers decades ago. Dubbed the “perversion files” by the organization, the more than 1,100 reports from 1965-84 were released into evidence in the suit last week.

The files were as detailed as listing the color of a certain volunteer’s hair and eyes. They also noted that confessed abusers who completed probation with the Scouts often were allowed to return to Scout activities. The files didn’t explain what the Scouts’ probation entailed, Schoener said.

Schoener, who studied hundreds of the formerly confidential files, said the detailed documents showed patterns, including how molesters would groom potential victims, how most pedophiles had many victims and how most re-offended. He said it was the most complete picture of sexual abusers and victims in the country at the time.

“Some are as thorough as a police report,” Schoener said. “Clearly, they realized they had a problem. They created a system to deal with it.”

The defense ran out of time Wednesday and will continue its cross-examination of Schoener early next month.

Charles Smith, attorney for the national Boy Scouts, earlier told jurors the documents protected children by helping national scouting leaders weed out sex offenders, especially repeat offenders who might have changed names or moved in an attempt to join another local scouting group.

Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith has said the organization cannot comment on details of the case, but has worked hard on awareness and prevention efforts, including background checks.

The trial, which began March 17, will take a break and resume Monday. It is expected to last two more weeks.

Source: AP / El Paso Times