Superior Court Judge Harry Tobias has sided with the Boy Scouts of America during a hearing in San Benito County on Thursday. In the hearing, Tobias dismissed part of a lawsuit that would have forced the organization to release documents relating to allegations and records of sexual misconduct with minors.
The documents, called “ineligible volunteer files” or “perversion files,” detail assault allegations against volunteers and scoutmasters. The lawsuit alleges that since 1965, the Boy Scouts has created over 5,000 of these private files, which are maintained at its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Back in 2010, a court in Portland, Oregon ordered the release of thousands of pages of these documents.
This element in the five-part complaint brought by Robert Kutz, alleged that the Boy Scouts caused a public nuisance by concealing the identities of those accused of abusing minors. The lawsuit called on the Boy Scouts to “identify each and every one of their current and former agents who have been accused of childhood sexual abuse” including where and when the alleged abuse took place.
“If the public nuisance cause of action had been able to continue, well the implication would have been that they would have been required to ultimately turn over these thousands of files, each one representing an individual perpetrator, to law enforcement, and to notify the public when they would have done so,” said Tim Hale, who represents Kutz. “And just having that information in the public record would have made today’s children safer, because it would have provided information to scouts, scout parents, scout volunteers, of who poses a risk and of the danger in scouting.”
Lawyers for the plaintiff have 30 days to amend the other complaints of negligence, fraud, negligent failure to warn, train, or educate the plaintiff, intentional infliction of emotional distress, childhood sexual abuse, and sexual battery. The Boy Scouts will have 30 days to respond.
Kutz’s lawsuit alleges that when he was a freshman in high school in 2002 to 2003, he was part of the Boy Scouts of America’s Explorers program run by the Hollister Police Department. It was during the program's ride-alongs that Kutz met Joseph Alvarado, who was then working as an emergency medical services specialist. According to the suit, Alvarado repeatedly sexually abused Kutz for years when Kutz was a teenager.
Kutz’s suit asserts that a culture of secrecy within the Boy Scouts and their non-disclosure of the history of abuse within the organization led to him becoming a target. Alvarado was arrested in 2014 on 24 counts of various sexual assault charges, including those relating to childhood sexual abuse, but not related to the alleged incident with Kutz.
At the center of the public nuisance complaint is whether or not Alvarado was under the jurisdiction of the Boy Scouts or the Hollister Police Department when the abuse took place.
During oral arguments, Boy Scout’s counsel Douglas J. Dixon said, “the plaintiff has not alleged that the harm, the alleged abuse, occurred during a scouting activity. He claims that Mr. Alvarado may have groomed and befriended him during scouting activities, but none of the harm occurred then.”
But according to Hale, whether or not Kutz was abused on the scouting trip itself, he says the police officers were supervising Kutz while he was participating in explorer activities. Therefore, in their capacity as explorer supervisors or as adult volunteers, they were under the control of the national organization of Boy Scouts.
“If it weren’t for these explorer activities, Mr. Kutz never would have met Mr. Alvarado,” said Hale.
In a statement given prior to the verdict, the Boy Scouts said “we are appalled by this man’s actions, and our thoughts are with any victim of abuse in any situation. While the individual was not affiliated with Scouting or Learning for Life when these alleged actions occurred, upon learning of these reports we took immediate action to prohibit him from any future participation in our programs. We thank the court for its thoughtful consideration of all viewpoints in this case.”