UPDATE 1-US Boy Scouts hit with two new child sex-abuse lawsuits

James B. Kelleher and Teresa Carson
Reuters Middle East

* Scouts had secret list of suspected molesters-lawyers

* BSA says it now has strict safety policies

(Adds details on Oregon lawsuit)

CHICAGO/PORTLAND, Ore. Dec 4 (Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of

America knew for decades that it attracted pedophiles as

volunteers but failed to protect children or warn parents of the

risk, according to lawsuits filed against the youth organization

in Illinois and Oregon on Tuesday.

In the Illinois case, a former Boy Scout who says he was

sexually assaulted when he was 10 by his now-imprisoned former

troop leader cites as evidence recently released files the

organization secretly maintained on suspected molesters in its


In the Oregon case, a former Eagle Scout who claims he was

molested by his troop leader when he was 11 says the group knew

there was a "institution-wide problem of Scout leaders sexually

abusing" children but that it "actively concealed the problem."

Kelly Clark, the attorney in the Oregon lawsuit, said the

two cases filed on Tuesday were "the same vintage" and reflected

the same basic failure by the group's leadership to warn parents

of the risks.

"By the mid 1960s the Boy Scouts knew everything they needed

to know to protect those kids and they weren't doing it," Clark

said. "Kids continued to get abused."


The Illinois lawsuit claims the Scouts allowed Thomas

Hacker, a Scout leader barred from the group after a 1970s

felony sex abuse conviction in Indiana, to rejoin as a volunteer

in Illinois in the 1980s, where he went on to molest more boys,

including the plaintiff.

Hacker was arrested in 1988 and convicted in 1989 of the

aggravated sexual assault of a 11-year-old member of his troop

in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

Now 75, Hacker is currently serving two concurrent 50-year

prison terms as a result of his conviction. His defense attorney

in the 1989 case called him "a classic pedophile - and sick

beyond that," according to a Chicago Tribune story at the time.

The Illinois lawsuit filed on Tuesday by a man identified

only as John Doe claims Hacker sexually assaulted him when he

was 10 years old after the disbarred Boy Scout leader and

convicted sexual molester was allowed to re-join the Scouts in

Illinois because no one ran a background check on him.

In the Oregon suit, a former Scout identified as "Henry Doe"

alleges the Boy Scouts did not protect him from being repeatedly

sexually molested by a Scout troop leader.

The troop leader, identified as James J. Jones in the

lawsuit, molested the boy weekly for a year, or about 50 times,

the suit says. Jones fondled and had oral and anal sex with the

boy, some of it forced, the suit says. Jones threatened to kill

the boy if he resisted, the suit says.

In a statement, the Boy Scouts said, "we deeply regret that

there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we

are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims."

The Illinois suit draws on details unearthed this fall when

the Boy Scouts of America, one of the country's largest youth

organizations, was forced by an Oregon court to release internal

documents they kept on Scout leaders and volunteers who were

suspected sexual predators.

The files go back almost to the organization's founding in

1910 and were known as the "red files," the "perversion files"

and the "ineligible volunteer files."

Roughly 20,000 pages of files, spanning from 1965 to 1985,

were released this fall by order of the Oregon Supreme Court,

after a jury in the state found the Scouts liable in a 1980s

pedophile case and ordered it to pay nearly $20 million in



The Boy Scouts of America says it now requires even

suspected cases of child molestation to be reported immediately

to law enforcement and says keeping the old files secret

protects victims.

Last week, a Texas appeals court sided with the group,

saying the Scouts did not have to turn over its post-1985 files

describing sexual abuse complaints against volunteers.

"The Boy Scouts have taken the view that keeping these files

secret protects the children," said Christopher Hurley, the

Chicago attorney representing John Doe in the Illinois case

filed Tuesday.

"But in this case it obviously didn't work. It may protect

the molesters and the Boy Scouts, but it's not in the best

interests of children."

The Scouts say the group has added background checks and

training programs and now requires law enforcement to be told

when there are "even suspicions" of abuse.

(Editing by Dan Burns and Cynthia Osterman)

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