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Long-held files about abuses in Boy Scouts released; about 30 South Florida cases included

BY CURTIS TATE AND STEVE ROTHAUS, SROTHAUS@MIAMIHERALD.COM

WASHINGTON -- The publication on Thursday of 20 years worth of secret records kept by the Boy Scouts of America reveals a widespread effort by the organization to cover up a scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against 1,200 Scouts leaders — including more than two dozen in South Florida.

The records, known within the Boy Scouts itself as the “perversion files,” cover the years 1965-1985 and detail the names of the alleged perpetrators, their hometowns and other information, including religion, when it was known.

About 30 of the 70 Florida cases occurred between the early 1960s and mid-1980s in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, according to documents released Thursday.

Half of those cases occurred in Miami-Dade County, including Miami, Opa-locka, Hialeah, Virginia Gardens and North Miami Beach.

The files were results of the organization’s own internal investigations into sexual abuse among its leaders and include court documents, newspapers clippings in cases where charges were actually filed and other material.

Not every person whose name was contained within the thousands of pages — which the Scouts officially called the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” — ever actually faced charges or was convicted. Some files only reflected concerns about someone.

But they span the nation, involving Boy Scouts organizations and leaders from small towns to bustling cities. Their disclosure also again marks an embarrassing betrayal of public trust by another prominent and respected social institution.

“This is like 2002 for the church’s abuse scandal,” said Miami attorney Jeff Herman, who since 1997 has handled more than 100 abuse cases against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami. “That’s when it all snowballed and so many victims came forward.”

Herman said he currently is working on three South Florida cases involving youths allegedly molested by Scouts leaders.

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