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Lawyer: Release of names of alleged Boy Scout molesters a matter of public safety

Investigators release a series of meticulous files compiled by Boy Scouts of America detailing decades of widespread sexual abuse inside the organization. KING's Susannah Frame reports.

A Seattle attorney who released the names of nearly 1,900 men who were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America after complaints of child sex abuse says he did so in the interest of public safety and education.

“This is an issue of broad public safety concern,” attorney Tim Kosnoff of Kosnoff Fasy said Tuesday.

“People are asking, is Boy Scouts an organization that can be trusted? I say not the way it’s currently dealing, or failing to deal with, the problem.”

On Monday, Kosnoff posted a spreadsheet on his website naming Scouting volunteers who were expelled from the national youth organization from 1971 to 1991 after they were accused of molesting boys or other inappropriate behavior.

Kosnoff, who has sued the Boy Scouts of America on behalf of more than 100 alleged sex-abuse victims over the past decade, calls the list the Boy Scouts' “perversion files.” He says he gathered the names and other identifying information over many years from a variety of sources, including court cases and those who had access to the BSA database.

"Many of these individuals have never been given an opportunity to refute these allegations in a court of law," a note on Kosnoff's website says. "Therefore, we make no assumptions about their guilt or innocence."

Media outlets, including The Oregonian and The Los Angeles Times, have previously had access to the files and published stories about them. But Kosnoff said the summary he posted on the Internet on Monday has never been directly available to the public.

He said his website had so many hits after the list was posted that it crashed early Tuesday morning. He said he's gotten calls from reporters across the country, as well as dozens of emails and phone calls from the general public.

“There’s just been a lot of ‘God bless you’ type of messages,” Kosnoff told NBC News on Tuesday.

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According to The Oregonian, Kosnoff did not release the underlying Boy Scout files that his spreadsheet was based upon because they had not been redacted of the alleged victims' names. His action comes days before some 1,200 redacted files are expected to be released by another set of attorneys in Portland, Ore., as a result of an order by the Oregon Supreme Court. Those files span 1965 to 1985, significantly overlapping with Kosnoff's, The Oregonian reported.

Don Ryan / AP file

Attorney Peter Janci sets court case displays upon boxes full of records from the Boy Scouts of America in Portland, Ore., June 14. The Oregon Supreme Court approved the release of 20,000 pages of so-called perversion files compiled by the Boy Scouts of America on suspected child molesters within the organization for more than 20 years.

Media organizations had sued for the release of those files, part of a 2010 Oregon case in which a jury decided that the Scouts were negligent for allowing a former assistant Scoutmaster to associate with the organization's youth after he admitted molesting 17 boys in 1983.

Kosnoff said he hopes the newly released information will be useful to parents.

“Why not just let the public see the evidence and decide for themselves whether they want to entrust their children to this organization?” Kosnoff said.

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In a statement Monday, Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, acknowledged that the organization had at times failed to protect the children in its care.

"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," Smith said, The Los Angeles Times reported. "Today Scouting is a leader among youth serving organizations in preventing child abuse."

In September, The Times reported that Scouting officials had failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters to police and often hid the allegations from parents and the public.

Related stories:

Gay Scouts come out, rally around teen's Eagle Scout bid

Almost-Eagle Scout denied award because he is gay

Boy Scouts admit response to sex abuse was 'insufficient'

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