Boy Scouts will review old files, report suspected abuse to police

The Boy Scouts are bracing for a new wave of scrutiny about the confidential files.

Earlier this month, more than 1,200 of the files were released by order of the Oregon Supreme Court. The Boys Scouts had argued to keep the files closed, warning the release could have a chilling effect on the reporting of alleged abuse.

The files, which span the 1960s through 1985, played a key role as evidence in a landmark Oregon lawsuit in 2010. A jury awarded nearly $20 million to a man who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s, ruling the Scouts had failed to protect him.

With the release of the files looming, the Scouts said it would conduct its own review of the files and ensure all instances of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.

In an open letter posted on its website , Scouting leaders said the confidential file system had helped protect Scouts. However, the BSA admitted the approach was flawed.

"In some instances, we failed to defend Scouts from those who would do them harm. 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.

"For any episode of abuse, and in any instance where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies and sympathies to victims and their families. One instance of abuse is too many."

The Scouts also recently released the findings of a study it paid a University of Virginia professor of psychiatry to conduct. Dr. Janet Warren concluded that while it was not perfect, the Ineligible Volunteer system had "functioned well to keep many unfit adults out of Scouting."

Legal experts say the release of the files could trigger a series of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts.