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Files could shed light on Boy Scouts abuse

MINNEAPOLIS — Confidential files turned over for a lawsuit set to go to trial in Minnesota may shed new light on the problem of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

The documents were produced in litigation brought against the Boy Scouts and a former scoutmaster, Peter Stibal II, who is serving 21 years in prison for molesting four Scouts. Attorneys for one former Scout won a court order for the nationwide internal files, commonly known as ‘‘ineligible volunteer’’ or ‘‘perversion files.’’

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They cover the years 1999-2008, much more recent than similar files forced into the open in an Oregon case last year.

‘‘We are intending to use those to show they have had a longstanding knowledge of the scope of a serious problem like Stibal,’’ said Jeffrey Anderson, the lead attorney for the molested Scout. ‘‘They kept files not known to the troops and members of the public and had a body of knowledge that was not made public.’’

Anderson, who built a national reputation for frequent lawsuits in clergy abuse cases, declined to say what the new documents might show ahead of the trial that begins Monday in St. Paul.

He said he expects attorneys for the Scouts to try to block the introduction and release of the files. He wouldn’t say how many former leaders the files cover.

But the release of more than 1,200 files in the Oregon case suggests the number could be large.

An attorney for the Scouts did not return messages seeking comment. The Scouts’ public relations director, Deron Smith, said in a prepared statement that protecting Scouts is ‘‘of paramount importance’’ to the organization.”

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