Almost two dozen former Bay Area Boy Scout volunteers are named in internal "perversion files" released by a judge Thursday that catalog cases of alleged molesters working with children.
The release of 14,500 secret and redacted pages, the most recent batch of documents involving sex abuse within the Boy Scouts of America, was ordered by the Oregon Supreme Court. They include confidential documents kept by the organization from 1965 to 1985 detailing molestation accusations against Boy Scout volunteers, along with criminal convictions.
The 23 Bay Area men included in the files hailed from San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Vallejo, Sunnyvale, Concord, Richmond, Redwood City, Mountain View, Berkeley, Saratoga, Daly City, Los Gatos and Travis Air Force Base. Many of the local cases showed a lack of screening, where men with criminal histories involving molestation were allowed to join the Boy Scouts. Others showed Boy Scout officials reacting slowly to complaints brought against questionable volunteers.
The files were initially entered into evidence in an Oregon civil case. Kept at the Boy Scouts headquarters in Texas, the files consist of memos from Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and parents, parole reports and newspaper clippings about criminal cases; some are unsubstantiated allegations by parents who brought complaints to Boy Scout authorities.
Boy Scout files have been released before, but Thursday's documents stretch back more than four decades, substantially expanding the number of cases in the public domain.
The documents do not indicate whether Boy Scout authorities passed along complaints to law enforcement, leading critics to question whether they intentionally hid the behavior.
A Seattle attorney who represents more than 150 men suing the Boy Scouts for alleged abuse says the Boy Scout organization acted "far worse" than the Catholic Church and its sex scandal.
"They utterly betrayed the trust of generations of Scouts and parents and the general public," said Timothy Kosnoff, who has maintained a database on his website with Boy Scouts perversion lists from 1971 to 1991. "They cannot be trusted to police themselves and none of the safeguards that they say they've put in place should be believed."
The national president of the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement Thursday there have been instances in which Scouting volunteers have abused children and the group's response has been "insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong."
"Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families," said Wayne Perry, the top Scout executive, referring to the files as the "Ineligible Volunteer Files."
Since the decades-old actions, Perry said the Boy Scouts have created a more stringent program to weed out potential child abusers.
Several East Bay examples that turned up in the files released Thursday show lax background checks.
In 1973, a Mount Diablo Council Scout official wrote to the national headquarters asking that George Leavitt, a 30-year-old Scoutmaster of Troop 20 in Berkeley, be added to the "Red Flag List."
"Problem -- primarily homosexual problems involving young males," wrote Roger Bales, the scout executive.
The Mount Diablo chapter had received a 1969 probation report which detailed Leavitt's attraction to young males: " ... the defendant admits to molesting 'five or six' young boys before being arrested for the first time in 1964."
Harold Arnold Jones, of Richmond, had been convicted in 1963 of orally copulating a 14-year-old boy but joined the Scouts after his probation ended. He was removed, but three years later was re-registered with the Scouts by accident. After a family member alerted the Scouts, Howard Boyd, director of registration and fulfillment services wrote: "I suspect we probably shouldn't take any drastic action," saying the unit expires in a few months and to not re-register Jones after that.
Most letters to the national headquarters were greeted with the same bland response from Paul Ernst, the registration and subscription executive, thanking them for sending the confidential record sheet.
"This is exactly the type of material we require for our Confidential File and we appreciate your efforts in getting them for us," Ernst wrote.
Redwood City resident Ronald Wentworth was placed in the files in 1972 based on allegations that he repeatedly fondled Scouts during two different outings. According to his file, Wentworth denied the claims and said that at worse, he had engaged in indiscreet roughhousing. Still, he was chided for "homosexual" actions and told that his credibility as an authority figure had been compromised.
Craig Markinson of Daly City was accused in 1982 of several inappropriate acts, including groping Scouts and showing them a pornographic film but he challenged all of the allegations except for showing the film, which he admitted was poor judgment.
Based in part on his 18 years of "exemplary conduct" with the Scouts, Markinson was given probation during which he could not serve in leadership. But six years later, in 1988, a Scout executive decided that based on new standards, the allegations against Markinson were sufficient to terminate him. Markinson appealed but in 1990 was denied for the final time.
While slow in response to some complaints, the organization was swift in dismissing a Scoutmaster upon his arrest. Los Gatos resident Thomas Watson was with a troop for a few months in 1966 but jettisoned shortly after his arrest for lewd and lascivious conduct with a 12-year-old boy.
Efforts to reach Watson and others on the list were unsuccessful Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.