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Former Boy Scout talks about abuse in civil trial: My word against his

Former Boy Scout talks about abuse in civil trial: My word against his
Former volunteer Boy Scout leader Al Stein was accused of molesting three boys in 2007 and pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges. He is now registered as a sex offender in Salinas. (California Department of Justice)

The victim in a Boy Scouts sex abuse case, now 20 years old, said in court Monday that he took his tape recorder to a Christmas tree lot where the 2007 abuse occurred to "have some evidence."

"I thought it was a good idea to have some evidence," he said. "It was a 13-year-old's word against a Scout leader, an adult.

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"He was someone people looked up to."

The family of the Santa Barbara County 20-year-old is suing Boy Scouts of America, alleging the organization knew or should have known the troop leader was a threat. Day 1 of the civil trial started Monday.

Attorney John Eck, who is representing the Los Padres Council of the Boy Scouts, told the jury Monday that youth organization officials were not negligent in how they handled the abuse case.

Once officials learned former volunteer troop leader Al Stein had molested a boy at a Goleta Christmas tree lot in 2007, they ousted him from the Scouts, he said.

"In this case, youth protection [protocols] did not prevent an abuse but stopped it quick," Eck said.

The Santa Barbara County man and two other boys were abused.

Eck told jurors that when Stein applied to become a volunteer leader, a background check was run in 2005 and "produced nothing."

"Therefore, Al Stein continued to be involved with Troop 36."

Stein previously pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment and was placed on five years' probation. He was later sent to prison for two years after he violated probation. Authorities found child pornography on his cellphone.

Details from Boy Scout documents known as the "perversion files" could be used in the trial.

Judge Donna D. Geck, who is presiding, ruled earlier this month that the internal Boy Scout "perversion files" could be used in the civil trial. The victim's attorneys said the documents would show the Scouts withheld information.

The files contain accounts documenting 16 years of sexual abuse allegations since the 1920s. The youth group had maintained the files, also known as "ineligible volunteer files," to keep suspected molesters out of the Boy Scouts.

The group resisted releasing the files, saying confidentiality was needed to protect victims' privacy. But more than 1,200 documents from 1965 to 1985 were made public in October 2012 by the Oregon Supreme Court after they were admitted into evidence in a lawsuit by an abused former Scout, who was awarded nearly $20 million.

A Los Angeles Times analysis revealed that the Scouts repeatedly hid allegations to protect the organization's reputation and failed to report abuse to authorities.

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Staff writer Kim Christensen contributed to this report.

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