BOISE -- Thousands of documents kept secret for years by the Boy Scouts of America are now finally public. Thursday, a Portland court case awarded a victim of sexual abuse by a scoutmaster, more than $20 million.
The letters, memos and newspaper clippings identify numerous sex abuse incidents by scoutmasters and Boy Scout volunteers from 1965 to 1985, including eight cases in Idaho.
The Boy Scouts of America admitted in a press release, that in some cases, their response to abuse claims was not what it should have been.
The specifics of one Idaho file, involving James Phillip Schmidt, gives us insight to the lack of action taken and also the details about what boy scouts said happened to them during this time.
In 1983, Schmidt was a Canyon County resident. He was working at the Idaho State hospital and was charged with felony lewd conduct with a child, after a 10 year old boy scout came forward with allegations of sexual assault.
When 15,000 pages of perversion files were cracked open this week, along with them came Schmidt s record showing that officials with the Boy Scouts of America Ore-Ida Council knew about numerous counts of abuse.
In 1979, a young Boy Scout composed a letter to the Ore-Ida council about a camping trip with then- scout volunteer Schmidt.
The young victim wrote--
Jim Schmidt tried to get his hands in my pants; I knocked his hand away and rolled over. I was scared.
The file reveals that Rex Black, a council executive for the Ore-Ida Council at the time, confronted Schmidt but told a national Boy Scout director that everything was under control.
In return, an associate director for the Boy Scouts of America asked twice for more information on Schmidt concerning his registration and specifics about his involvement by way of a records report.
Black replied to the 1982 requests by writing a letter and in it he said--
I do not feel that Jim Schmidt should be put on the confidential file. There is probably no chance that he will leave this council and I'll watch for any wrongdoing here.
Although there was some concern about his involvement in the council and even after he was asked to not be alone with boys from that point on, Schmidt stayed on as a scout volunteer with the Ore-Ida council.
By 1983 yet another complaint against Schmidt came forward from a 10 year old scout, this time landing Schmidt in jail.
Canyon County authorities said back in 1983 that they believed there were a number of victims, not just one. Schmidt s affiliation with the Ore-Ida council was finally terminated after he was charged in 1983.
One of Schmidt's victims came forward in 2007 with a $10 million lawsuit. Ron Morgan, who now lives in Arizona, said he knew even back then the Boy Scouts of America were covering up the sexual abuse.
So I am hoping this will enable me to heal completely, said Morgan in 2007.
You knew about it, it didn t even have to happen to me, why didn t you do something about it? he told cameras.
Morgan won his lawsuit, but it was then overturned by the Supreme Court.
In 1983, newspapers reported Schmidt was taken to a mental hospital in Maryland.
According to the Maryland department of Public Safety, Jim Schmidt is currently listed as a level three sex offender.
The Boys Scouts sent us a national press release, saying every adult is issued a criminal background check. They also say, they will report all good-faith suspicions of abuse to law enforcement.
More related Links:
Boy Scouts of America statement
Boy Scouts of America website
Boy Scounts statement on release of perversion files
KING5 Investigators: Analysis of some of Washington's perversion files
Boy Scouts hire independent review of files (full report)
Boy Scout Youth Protection program