JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They've been called the "perversion files." Files kept by the Boy Scouts of America containing information on more than 1,200 ineligible volunteers. Men and women who had been suspected of sexually abusing children.
Now, we've learned five of those ineligible volunteers were from Jacksonville. Each case occurred between 1965 and 1985. And the suspects include local husbands, fathers, teachers, and ministers.
We took our questions about this case to local attorney, and former FBI agent, Dale Carson. He said, "It wasn't suddenly that they were identified. But rather, they had been identified, and the Boy Scouts, apparently, had taken action to get them removed from their leadership roles."
He said this information has only come forward now because of a recent lawsuit in Oregon. Attorneys provided information they had uncovered during their investigation.
Action News asked Carson, "Is there anything to be learned from these documents? Perhaps tactics of child molesters?" He replied, "There's no question that child molesters will go where the children are."
Carson says that's one thing that hasn't changed over the years. However, the way we track a predator's behavior certainly has. A statement issued by local Scout Executive, Jack Sears, said "We now require background checks for all volunteers and staff, comprehensive training programs, and strict safety policies."
But Carson says that only goes so far. "Background checks only concern past behavior, not future behavior." He suggests background checks go further. "A psychiatric evaluation, perhaps polygraph examination, and certainly associate interviews. Interviewing people around the individual looking for perspective employment."
He admits, however, that would be expensive for any organization to do. So while background checks only catch predators who have been busted before, he says the last line of defense is parents. "One of the quickest ways to avoid a problem is to have contact with your children in a way that permits them to feel comfortable coming to you if there's a problem," said Carson.
Sears says even one case of abuse is too many. And that volunteers are now taught to recognize and report suspected abuse. He says its policy continuously changes to keep up with the times.
We asked him if he was disappointed these old documents were released. He said, "While we respect the decision of the court, we are still concerned that the release of two decades’ worth of confidential files into public view, even with the redactions indicated, may still negatively impact victims’ privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse."