Staff and wire reports
More than two dozen former Connecticut Boy Scout leaders are among the thousands accused of molestation and other sex crimes whose names, personnel records and other information were kept in confidential "perversion files" that were released to the public Thursday.
The files -- collected from 1959 to 1985 -- include documentation of incidents and allegations ranging from a Fairfield scoutmaster who was "picked up" on child pornography possession charges but never officially booked to a Darien assistant scoutmaster who admitted to having sex with a boy in his troop, but was never reported to police.
The 14,500 pages of secret documents -- shown to a jury in a 2010 Oregon civil suit that the Scouts lost -- were released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court after months of objections and redactions. Officially called the "ineligible volunteer files," the documents includes reasons why the Scouts were not allowed to participate in the organization.
There are 25 former Scouts leaders from Connecticut included in the documents. The men came from towns and cities including Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Milford, New Milford, Norwalk and West Haven.
State and local Boy Scouts leaders referred comment to a national spokesman.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our Scouts," Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement.
Smith said there have been times when Scouts' responses to sex abuse allegations were "plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong" and the organization extends its "deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families."
At a news conference Thursday, Portland, Ore., attorney Kelly Clark blasted the Boy Scouts for their continuing legal battles to try to keep the full trove of files secret.
"You do not keep secrets hidden about dangers to children," said Clark, who in 2010 won a landmark lawsuit against the Scouts on behalf of a plaintiff who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.
The new files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after its founding in 1910, when Ernest Thompson Seaton combined Woodcraft Indians, based in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, which he had founded two years earlier, with other youth organizations.
The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations
Many of the files released Thursday have been written about before, but this is the first time the earliest ones have been put in the public domain.
The documents include a letter from a district Scouting executive to the national Scouting registration service about a Fairfield Scoutmaster "picked up" by police after he was allegedly found with child pornography. The man, a former Marine who was active in Scout organizations around the Northeast, was never officially charged. A Fairfield police captain is quoted in the letter as saying that it is in the "best interests" of Scouting to remove him from his position. The scoutmaster would later reappear in the Boston area and faced further allegations of molestation and abuse in 1981.
The files also include documents relating to a Darien assistant scoutmaster who in 1966 was accused of "homosexual acts" with a boy in his troop. A letter from a Scout executive claims the man admitted to committing the acts. His registration with the organization was stripped, but there is no record that the man was ever reported to the police. The files show an effort by several parents and friends of the man to get him back into his position after "psychological treatment," but the request was denied.
Another set of files reveals that a 21-year-old "neighborhood commissioner," from New Milford, David Hutchings Dailey, who was arrested on a morals offense in Bridgeport in 1966, was allowed to continue his work with the Scouts because he was seeking treatment by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told the Scouts that Dailey was "under control of himself," and "there was no reason why he should not carry on a normal life." He was arrested two years later on morals and risk of injury to a minor charges and sentenced to two years in the Fairfield Hills Hospital. At that point, Dailey's registration with the Boy Scouts was taken away, and he was included on the "confidential list."
Dennis Ellsworth, a Newtown man, was included in the files after he was arrested on a morals charge involving an 8-year-old boy, according to Boy Scouts files and an article published in the Bridgeport Telegram in 1963. Ellsworth, a Fairfield teacher, was a committeeman in a West Haven troop. Ellsworth was convicted of disorderly conduct and spent 30 days in jail.
Donald Fricke, of Milford, was convicted in 1966 of "fondling a Boy Scout when he was a Scoutmaster," according to an article from the New Haven Register included in the documents. Fricke would become a Scout leader 18 years later, again in Milford, until that Register article was published, revealing his past. Fricke resigned from the Scouts and was added to the ineligible volunteer files kept by the organization.
The 1959-85 files show that on many occasions the files succeeded in keeping pedophiles out of Scouting leadership positions -- the reason they were collected in the first place.
But the files document some troubling patterns.
In many instances -- more than a third, according to the Scouts' own count -- police weren't told about the alleged abuse.
And there is little mention in the files of concern for the welfare of Scouts who were allegedly abused by their leaders. But there are numerous documents showing compassion for suspected abusers, who were often times sent to psychiatrists or pastors to get help.
In numerous instances, alleged abusers are kicked out of Scouting but show up in jobs where they are once again in authority positions dealing with youths.
The Scouts in late September made public an internal review of the files and said they would look into past cases to see whether there were times when abusers should have been reported to police.
The files showed a "very low" incidence of abuse among Scout leaders, said psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Warren, who conducted the review with a team of graduate students and served as an expert witness for the Scouts in the 2010 case that made the files public. Her review of the files didn't take into account the number of files destroyed on abusers who turned 75 years old or died, something she said would not have significantly affected the rate of abuse or her conclusions.
Staff writer Tom Cleary and the Associated Press contributed to this report.