This story was reported by Travis Andersen and Martin Finucane of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondents Colin A. Young, Melanie Dostis, and Liam O’Kennedy. It was written by Andersen.
Forty-five people from Massachusetts are listed in the secret “perversion files” maintained by the Boy Scouts of America that were released on Thursday by an Oregon legal team under an order of the Oregon Supreme Court.
The hometowns of the Massachusetts residents listed in the Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files were spread across the state, from South Boston to Pittsfield. The files contained 44 names and one person listed as “unknown.”
The Globe is not naming any of the men because it could not immediately be determined on Thursday night if any of them have ever been charged criminally. Some of the names appear on the state’s Sex Offender database but it could not be confirmed if they were the same people.
One of the law firms included in the legal team that won the release of the files as part of a child sex abuse lawsuit said on its website that some of the abuse allegations in the files were later substantiated by court proceedings, but “in a great many cases no such substantiation ever occurred.”
The files were introduced in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the files should be made public. Portland lawyer Kelly Clark posted the files online on Thursday after the Scouts had fought against their publication in the courts, he said on his website.
The legal team, which included the firm O’Donnell Clark and Crew LLP and lawyer Paul Mones, emphasized, “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.”
The files listed approximately 1,200 child molesters from across the country who were accused of abuse between 1965 and 1985, Clark said. The alleged abusers were barred from serving with the Scouts.
Among the Massachusetts cases made public was that of an Ayer man, who while volunteering with a troop in that town in the 1970s “engaged in sexual acts” with a 12-year-old Scout, according to an entry in the man’s file.
He declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday night.
One entry in his file states that he “has admitted to a morals offense against one of our scouts. The family, including the scout, fortunately have decided not to prosecute.”
In Massachusetts on Thursday night, scouting groups including Boston Minuteman Council, the Knox Trail Council, and the Annawon Council could not be reached for comment.
Thomas Nut-Powell was a scout from 1955-1961 in State College, Penn., who now lives in Brookline. He said he was never aware of any abuse or cover-ups, but he sent back his Eagle Scout award recently over the Scouts’ policy of not admitting gays.
“How is it that people so give in to this lust that they go to a place where good things are supposed to happen and make it bad?”
Alan D. Kline, of Lynn, a committee member with Troop 53 in Swampscott and executive board member with the Yankee Clipper Council, said he has heard whispers of sexual abuse over the years.
“I don’t think it’s anything different than what the Catholic Church did,” he said. “I’m not surprised that these files came out.
“I’m not embarrassed by it. I’m doing the best I can to educate people on how to prevent this kind of thing. “I’m going to drive home the point that we’re doing something about it.”
According to Clark’s website, testimony in the 2010 lawsuit showed the Boy Scouts began keeping the files as early as the 1920s, but those released on Thursday covered the period from 1965 to 1985.
The Associated Press reported that the 14,500 pages of the files showed that decade after decade, an array of authorities — police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors, and local Boy Scout leaders among them — quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children, allowing sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence.
In a statement on Thursday, the Boy Scouts admitted that they had not always responded appropriately when allegations surfaced.
“There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong,” the statement said.
“Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.”
The Boy Scouts added that the organization is now “a leader” among youth organizations in terms of protecting children from abuse. Among the safeguards currently in place are requiring background checks, training programs for staff and volunteers, and mandated reporting of even suspected abuse cases, according to the statement.
The organization also defended its practice of keeping a database of people barred from serving with the Boy Scouts.
“Experts have found that the BSA’s system of Ineligible Volunteer Files functions well to help protect Scouts by denying entry to dangerous individuals, and Scouting believes that they play an important role in our comprehensive youth protection system.”
Carmen Durso, a Boston lawyer who represents victims of child sex abuse, commended the Oregon lawyers for working for public disclosure of the suspects in the Boy Scout files.
“Much of the time, the goal that people have when they come to us is to achieve that kind of result,” he said.
Durso, who has brought cases against the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, and other large institutions, said the pattern of covering up abuse no longer surprises him.
“It saddens me that what you keep seeing over and over again, institution after institution . . . is that the goal of preserving the organization’s reputation and its funds have become more important than taking care of the kids for whom the organizations were started in the first place,” Durso said.