DALLAS (AP) — A Texas district judge on Wednesday reaffirmed an earlier ruling that requires the Boy Scouts of America to turn over so-called "perversion" files kept on abuse claims, one of three states where the Scouts are involved in court battles over the private files.
The ruling by Judge Laura Salinas in San Antonio is largely procedural and likely won't result in an immediate release of the ineligible volunteer files, which were kept by the group on sexual abuse complaints against adults within the organization. Attorneys who have sued on behalf of former Scouts say releasing the newer files could show whether the national organization kept its promises to improve its protections against child abuse.
In October, District Judge Martha Tanner in San Antonio had ordered the Scouts to turn over the files to lawyers for a former Scout who says he was sexually assaulted by a now-imprisoned former scoutmaster. Lawyers for the Scouts appealed Tanner's ruling to the 4th Texas Court of Appeals and won a partial stay in November. But Tanner retired from the bench at the end of the year, prompting the appeals court on Jan. 2 to send the case back to the district level.
The 4th Texas Court of Appeals' ruling gave the Boy Scouts five days to dismiss or amend their appeal once Tanner ruled. Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in an email that the case will remain on appeal.
The public release in October of perversion files dating from 1959 to 1985 in an Oregon case revealed a cover-up of decades of sexual abuse, as Scout leadership sought to shield scoutmasters and other adult leaders from criminal charges.
The national Scouts organization, based in Irving, Texas, says it now requires any suspicion of abuse to be reported to law enforcement. The Scouts have also enacted other policy changes, including restricting one-on-one interactions between leaders and children.
The California Supreme Court in recent weeks rejected an appeal from the Boy Scouts to stop them from having to turn years of files in another abuse lawsuit. A local judge had ordered files from 1991 onward to be turned over to the victim's attorneys. And on Tuesday, a Minnesota district judge ordered files from 1999 to 2008 to be turned over.
In the Texas case, attorney Paul Mones had previously sought files from 1985 to 2011. He said Wednesday that he and the other attorney on the case were now seeking files just from 1996 to 2006 because those years were more specific to the purposes of the case.
Mones, who was also involved in the Oregon case, said judges across the country were siding with attorneys and victims who want the Scouts to disclose the files, though under seal from the public for now.
"It's literally one court after another," he said.