The public is finally getting a glimpse of how widespread allegations of sexual abuse are in the Boy Scouts of America organization.
On Thursday, attorneys released more than 20,000 confidential Boy Scout files documenting accusations of sexual abuse of boys from 1965 to 1985.
The attorneys got the documents during the course of a successful lawsuit against the group in 2010. In that lawsuit, the Boy Scouts were found negligent for allowing a former assistant scoutmaster to associate with scouts after he admitted sexually abusing 17 boys.
The Oregon Supreme Court approved releasing 1,247 “ineligible volunteer files” that identify more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers who were banned from the organization. One of the attorneys releasing the files says the information could lead to criminal cases. "I think you could see some prosecutions," Kelly Clark said.
Clark also said there could be civil cases, but only in states that provide extensions for statute of limitations involving allegations of child abuse, such as Oregon.
The attorneys are also asking for the Boy Scouts to release its files from 1985 to the present.
On October 4, a Texas judge ordered the release of the post-1985 files, but Clark says he expects the Boy Scouts to appeal that order.
Before the documents were scheduled to be released, Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry apologized to families mentioned in the files.
"Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families," Perry said in a statement. "While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals' actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse."
Read more: Boy Scout suit alleges years of sexual abuse
Citing privacy concerns, Perry also said he disagreed with the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision to release the files. The alleged victims' names are redacted from the documents, but the files include the names of those who are accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior.
"While we respect the court, we are still concerned that the release of two decades' worth of confidential files into public view, even with the redactions indicated, may still negatively impact victims' privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse," said Perry.