Plaintiff says Scout leader’s abuse made him a recluse
The victim in a Boy Scouts sex abuse case, who is now 20, testified Monday that he became a recluse in his Goleta home after a 2007 incident in a local Christmas tree lot.
The victim said that after he was molested by a volunteer Scout leader, he refused to leave his home except for medical appointments and to attend school. He eventually enrolled in a home-schooling program because he felt the man who molested him was “stalking” him after the man showed up outside his high school.
“I was afraid of being out in public, where that kind of thing could happen again,” the man told a jury in a civil negligence lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. “I didn’t want to be outside of my house. I didn’t feel safe outside of my house.”
The family of the victim is suing the Boy Scouts of America, charging that the organization knew or should have known the troop leader was a threat. The civil trial started Monday.
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna D. Geck ruled this month that secret Boy Scout documents known as the “ineligible volunteer” files, which outline allegations and incidents of abuse among adult Scout leaders nationwide, could be used in the trial. The decision opens the door to the possibility that the documents, which are also known as the “perversion files,” could eventually be released to the public.
The Boy Scouts have said the files are used to keep suspected molesters out of the Boy Scouts. The organization resisted releasing the files, saying that confidentiality was needed to protect victims’ privacy.
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.
Geck’s ruling covers more recent files.
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 the 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 in 2005, a background check “produced nothing.”
“Therefore, Al Stein continued to be involved with Troop 36,” he said.
A Boy Scouts spokeswoman said Monday by email that Stein’s name did not appear in the files until after the Santa Barbara County incident, when he was barred from the Scouts. His name is now in the files, she said.
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 his probation. Authorities found child pornography on his cellphone.
Under questioning by his attorney Monday, the victim said that after the abuse, he stopped playing baseball and hanging out with his friends, and had a difficult time with relationships and with male authority figures. He received treatment from a therapist but eventually stopped.
“I didn’t want to talk about it,” said the victim, whose name was used in court. The Times generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Covarrubias reported from Santa Barbara, Rocha reported from Los Angeles.
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