Judge denies extensive blacking out of Boy Scouts files
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
PORTLAND — An Oregon judge has denied a request from the Boy Scouts of America to make extensive redactions to the public release of 20 years of their so-called perversion files.
But Multnomah County Judge John Wittmayer did order less extensive redactions, including blacking out the addresses and telephone numbers from the files of victims and people reporting allegations of abuse.
Wittmayer's ruling goes back to a landmark lawsuit in Portland against the Boy Scouts. The Scouts lost the lawsuit in April 2010 but fought against the release of files on 1,200 alleged molesters.
The Oregon Supreme Court in June ruled the documents are public records and could be released with the redaction of victims' names.
The files on men blacklisted from scouting from 1965-85 were introduced as evidence in that case. The Scouts lost the lawsuit in a jury ruling but fought to keep the files confidential.
Media organizations, including The Associated Press, said the files should be considered public.
"The reasons cited by the Boy Scouts of America (for further redactions) are, in my view, not persuasive when balanced against the reasons for disclosure," Wittmayer said in his ruling.
Charles Hinkle, attorney for the media organizations, said he doesn't anticipate any request to fight the judge's new redaction order.
"The ruling today was consistent with what the judge ruled two years ago in his effort to protect the privacy and conceal the identity of the victims," Hinkle said.
Attorneys for the Scouts did not immediately return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
The 20,000 pages of files containing sex abuse allegations from 1965-85 were shown to jurors in the 2010 case, which stemmed from the abuse of several children by an Oregon Scout leader.
Wittmayer reviewed six of the files before making his ruling.
The files contain accusations against Scout leaders ranging from child abuse to lesser offenses that would prohibit them from working in the Scouts.
Attorneys in suits across the country are seeking various segments of the files, such as the 20-year segment in Portland. Those cases -- in states including Idaho, Texas, California and Montana -- are part of a larger effort by a network of attorneys to make public all the files kept by the Scouts, which date back to at least 1925.