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(NECN/NBC News: Anne Thompson) - The Boy Scouts of America are in the news. It’s about the release of thousands of previously confidential documents: they detail more than two decades of alleged abuse by the very people whom parents were trusting to take care of their children.
They are called the perversion files: 1,247 cases of known or suspected child abusers who were in the boy scouts, files kept by the boy scouts and made public by two Portland, Oregon attorneys.
“The boy scouts knew they had an institution wide problem with child abuse and didn't take steps to prevent that,” said attorney Kelly Clark.
The files contain information about reported abusers in 49 states from 1965 to 1985.
This one concerns a scout leader convicted of child abuse in 1984 near Syracuse, N.Y.
It holds his record sheet, letters between scout leaders and newspaper clippings.
Some cases went to authorities, while others did not.
“It's a lesson that can't be learned well enough. And what these files represent is the pain and anguish of thousands of untold scouts,” said attorney Paul Mones.
“We're sorry that it happened,” said Boy Scout President Wayne Perry.
In an interview earlier this week, Perry apologized to the victims for not doing enough to protect them but made no apologies for the files he calls the ineligible volunteer files.
Perry said they've been kept since the 1920s in an effort to prevent abusers from returning.
“Our ineligible volunteer file, is a very, is a big element in our keeping track and making sure nobody gets in. people should be happy we have these files,” he said. “You want us to keep these files and we will keep these files.”
Today, the scouts require background checks of volunteers, mandatory reporting of abuse and training.
“We do everything we can in scouting to keep our kids safe. You'll find all kinds of information on this website,” says a Boy Scout of America youth protection video.
Dr. Frank Spinelli says his scout leader molested him for two years in the late 70s.
“I told my parents; they went to the other assistant scoutmasters who persuaded my parents not to press charges.”
Though his case is not included, Spinelli says the files send a very important message.
“It's really a matter of going to the authorities and not the system itself, because the system is just going to protect itself.”
The Boys Scouts apologized once again, and the organization promises to review all its files from 1965 to the present and report all good-faith suspicions of abuse that have not been reported to law enforcement.