More alarming details have surfaced about how many people were listed in the Boy Scouts of America’s “perversion files,” according to lawyers who demand the full release of thousands of names of alleged offenders in the files. Nearly 200 of them are from New York and New Jersey.
Though allegations came to light Monday night, a victims' rights attorney who compiled an "incomplete" list of former Boy Scout leaders accused of abuse in New York held a press conferences Tuesday to discuss what he claims to be a widespread pattern of abuse. He also asked more victims to come forward.
The victims’ rights attorney, Jeff Anderson, called it a system of denial and cover-ups. He claims the Boy Scouts have files on child abusers within their ranks dating back to the 1940s.
"For many, many years there's been an excavation of what are called the 'perversion files' — those are files held and hoarded at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters," Anderson said during Tuesday's New York press conference, adding that "those 'perversion files' that they've had reflect that they have removed thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse over the years and they've kept that in files secretly."
The knowledge of the files themselves is not new, as outlets including NBC have previously reported on them. An Oregon judge ordered their release in 2012 after they were shown to a jury in a civil suit.
However, the number of alleged perpetrators found in the files is new, according to Anderson. He said, citing testimony by a professional retained by the BSA to audit the files, that there were 7,819 suspected perpetrators, while the number of victims total 12,254.
"That is a number not known before today or ever revealed by the Boy Scouts of America," he said.
The Boy Scouts of America told News 4 in a statement that they “care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.”
"We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children," the statement reads in part.
It continues: "At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement."
Anderson said his law firm managed to identify 130 former BSA leaders in New York who are found in the files that have so far been made available. According to Anderson, the list of alleged abusers was compiled into what he called the "Anderson File," but said the list of names is incomplete.
The BSA never released the names of the alleged perpetrators to the public or authorities, Anderson claimed.
"The bad news is that this is far from a full disclosure," he said, adding "we had to sound the alarm."
According to Anderson, it is not clear at this point whether the accused are even alive, let alone where they might live, whether they are involved in activities with children or if they have criminal records.
Bridie Farrell, a survivor of abuse and co-founder of NY Loves Kids, an organization that aims to create a safer New York by speaking out about child sexual abuse, was also present at the press conference.
"As someone who has been talking about childhood sexual abuse, I've known of the 'perversion files' and the Boy Scouts of America problem for years now," she said. "But when I spoke with Jeff and he told me these numbers, numbers of 7,000 and 12,000, I was shocked."
Attorneys in New Jersey also scheduled a news conference Tuesday, where they plan to release the names of 50 Boy Scout leaders named in the files who worked in the state.
Anderson plans to file multiple lawsuits against the Boy Scouts on behalf of the victims and demands the organization hand over their files, including names of those accused of abuse.
Although Anderson must wait to file suit because New York's Child Victims Act is not effective until Aug. 14, he said he couldn't wait any longer and wanted to make the information he received public. The legislation essentially erases the statute of limitations to report a crime of childhood sexual abuse. A similar bill for sexual abuse victims was also passed by the state's Assembly and Senate and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Greg Gianforcaro, lead New Jersey lawyer working with Anderson, said during New Jersey's press conference they are working to give survivors their voice back.
"This is about the institution failing to do the right thing. Failing to disclose the names," he said.
Mark Crawford, who identifies as a clergy abuse survivor and is an advocate, said he is not shocked by the numbers since he works with survivors of sexual abuse.
"It's not surprising to me," he said, adding: "We should no longer be shocked, we should be angry and move to action."
He said he was "glad" the information was being exposed, calling it "important and necessary."