SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A civil case in a Santa Barbara, Calif., courtroom could have huge implications for every Boy Scout council across the country.
It’s a sex abuse case involving a boy who was 13 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.
The prosecuting attorney wants more than 100,000 pages of secret documents detailing countless men accused of sex abuse that never made it to law enforcement to be made public.
The judge in this case ruled to allow some of the documents, the so-called “perversion” files, as evidence in trial.
In court Monday, the prosecutor pointed to a long history of sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America, an issue that’s been heavily documented.
Utah is part of the problem, with former Ogden school teacher and Boy Scout leader Kenneth Prince accused of sexually abusing a child more than 30 years ago.
For the first time ever, some of these reports of sexual abuse made to BSA will be made public. The files will include 16 years of documents never seen before.
“First step is putting them in front of the jury. The next step would be at the conclusion of the case fighting to have them publicized -- but we've got to get them in front of the jury first,” said prosecutor Tim Hale.
Defense attorney Greg Skordas is not involved in the case, but spoke with FOX 13 about the potential impact.
“The question for the jury is going to be, ‘given that information Boy Scouts of America, what did you do to prevent it from occurring down the road? What kind of training? What kind of education? What kind of background checks where you doing to prevent these young scouts from being abused by your scout leaders?’” Skordas said.
A statement from Boy Scouts of America reads, “The Ineligible Volunteer Files (IV) exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting and Scouts are safer because those files exist. Experts have found that the BSA’s system of IV 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.”
As part of the ruling, records that the prosecutor does not use in trial will remain sealed. Some of those documents date back to the 1920s.
Skordas explained that if the case is ruled against the Boy Scouts of America, it could lead to a number of other civil suits against the organization from others who may have been abused.