A New Jersey man has filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America over secret records the organization keeps on volunteers credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Richard Halvorson, who said he was abused in Atlantic County in 1982 at age 11 by his Boy Scout leader, hopes to force the release of the organization’s “perversion files.”
“Evil can only exist when people don’t speak up and go against it. It will just flourish if you’re quiet,” Halvorson said.
Jeff Anderson, one of Halvorson’s attorneys, said the Boy Scouts are hiding files on thousands of volunteers accused of sexual abuse, making it impossible for the public to know whether those volunteers still work with children. He said the legal action aims to change that.
“It is seeking the truth — the painful and powerful and sorrowful past that needs to be known for the future to be safer,” Anderson said.
The lawsuit filed Monday in state court does not seek monetary damages from the Boy Scouts of America.
In a statement, the Boy Scouts said it reported Halvorson’s abuser to law enforcement in 1986 after learning of a sexual abuse allegation against him and banned him from the group.
The Boy Scouts also apologized to Halvorson and stressed the need to protect children.
But survivor advocate Joelle Casteix said the group’s policy of rooting out abusive volunteers is meaningless without full transparency on those believed to be credibly accused.
“When you won’t release the files of the ineligible volunteers, and you won’t tell us who the entire list of ineligible volunteers are,” she said, “how do we know that you’re going to follow your policies and procedures?”