Timeline: How BSA Files Went from Confidential to Public

1987 – In Wilson v. Tobiassen (Benton County, Ore.), the BSA is ordered to submit the Confidential Files on the offender to the plaintiff’s attorney, Bill Barton.

1989 – For the first time, a judge orders the BSA to turn over a set of its Confidential Files to the attorneys (Barton and Doug Wessel) for a plaintiff in a sex abuse suit (Infant C. V. BSA, Fairfax County, Va.). The BSA produces all files from 1975 through 1984 that involve allegations of sex abuse – totaling 231 cases.

1991 – Washington Times reporter Patrick Boyle copies the 231 files from Wessel. The Times uses those files and other court documents and newspaper stories to create a database of abusers in Scouting, then runs a series of stories about abuse in the BSA that includes a list of 416 cases in which a leader was banned for alleged abuse, covering 1971-89.

1992 – Plaintiff’s attorney Michael Rothschild (Doe v. Trueman, Sacramento County, Calif.) uses The Washington Times list to convince a judge to order to BSA to produce all Confidential Files involving sex abuse allegations from 1971 through November 1991. The total comes to 1,871 files.

1993 – In a joint project, ABC News and The Washington Times copy the Confidential Files held by Rothschild. Boyle uses the files to create a new database analyzing abuse in Scouting, which becomes the basis of an ABC News magazine program (Day One), another Washington Times story and a book (Scouts Honor, provided free by Youth Today here).

1990s-2012 – Those fifteen boxes of Confidential Files sit in Boyle’s garage. Every few years, attorneys for victims who are suing the BSA for sex abuse copy the files. One of those attorneys is Tim Kosnoff, who has the files scanned into electronic format, then uses them to create a database that lists and describes every case.

2007 – In a lawsuit brought by Kosnoff  (T.S. et al v. the BSA, Seattle, Wash.), the BSA submits about 3,200 Confidential Files from 1947-2004. The case is settled and the files are returned to the BSA.

2010 – In Doe v. BSA, Portland, Ore., a judge orders the BSA to produce all of its Confidential Files from 1965-85, amounting to 1,247 cases.

2012 – Kosnoff posts his database of nearly 1,900 files online.

The 1,200-plus files from Doe v. BSA are posted online by the plaintiff’s attorney, Kelly Clark.


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