Attorneys releasing confidential Boy Scouts files on alleged child molestation are calling upon Congress to audit whether the group's youth protections are working.
The effort to seek a congressional inquiry came Thursday as the attorneys released more than 20,000 Boy Scout documents identifying more than 1,000 leaders and volunteers banned from the group after being accused of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.
Child abuse prevention groups will be asked to join a national push for the congressional audit, according to the lawyers, who won a child sex abuse lawsuit against the Scouts in Oregon and are now suing the group in Texas.
The Boy Scouts, founded by congressional charter in 1910, welcome an audit or "any additional examination by authorities," the group said.
The organization also apologized to victims and their families.
"There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong," the Boy Scouts said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts organization announced a few weeks ago that it's reviewing all files since 1965 to ensure "all good-faith suspicion of abuse" has been reported to police.
The files released by attorneys Thursday span from 1965 to 1985.
Two-thirds of those files have involved "local law enforcement already," and the group enacted a mandatory policy in 2011 requiring all members to tell police of possible abuse child abuse or use of child pornography, the Boy Scouts said.
One of the attorneys, Kelly Clark of Portland, is seeking the federal audit because of news accounts he's read the past three years showing that adult Scoutmasters were being accused of child sex abuse or possessing child pornography.
"One of the questions we have for the Boy Scouts is, if the policy (on child abuse prevention) is so good, why is still happening?" Clark said. "We don't, for example, see a Catholic priest being arrested once a week, once a month, anymore."
The public release of the Scouts' 1,247 "ineligible volunteer files" from 1965 to 1985 does not identify the boy victims and witnesses. The national files are being distributed with the approval of the Oregon Supreme Court by a law firm that won an $18.5 million judgment in 2010 against the Boy Scouts in a case where a Scoutmaster sexually abused a boy.
The files were posted on Clark's website.
CNN is not linking to the reports because it hasn't verified the allegations that they contain and because the attorneys admit that they haven't checked the veracity of the allegations.
In response to the files' release, Wayne Perry, president of Boy Scouts of America, said the group is deeply committed to youth protection.
"Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families," Perry said in a statement Wednesday evening. "While it is difficult to understand or explain individuals' actions from many decades ago, today Scouting is a leader among youth-serving organizations in preventing child abuse."
The files show banned volunteers included married and single men from a variety of religions. Some were marginally educated, and others had post-graduate degrees. Their professions were schoolteacher, alarm system dispatcher, customer service representative, computer engineer, auto parts clerk and real estate appraiser.
The attorneys also asked Thursday for the Boy Scouts to voluntarily release its so-called "perversion files" from 1985 to 2011. A Texas judge on October 4 ordered the release of the post-1985 files, but the attorneys said they expect the Scouts to appeal that order.
About the Boy Scouts' ongoing review of past files for possible police notification, Clark said: "I think you could see some prosecutions."
Clark charged that the Boy Scouts of America "set back the child abuse prevention movement by 10 years" by fighting the public release of its internal "perversion files."
But the group asserts it has the nation's "most comprehensive program" on youth protection among youth-serving organizations. In fact, the Boy Scouts will highlight the subject at a symposium it's hosting in Atlanta next month with similar groups.
The Boy Scouts opposed the release of the internal records and said their confidentiality has encouraged prompt reporting of questionable behavior and privacy for victimized boys and their families.
"While we respect the court, we are still concerned that the release of two decades' worth of confidential files into public view, even with the redactions indicated, may still negatively impact victims' privacy and have a chilling effect on the reporting of abuse," the organization said.
The Scouts also released a September report from a University of Virginia psychiatry professor, Janet Warren, who concluded that the system "has functioned well in keeping many unfit adults out of Scouting."
But the attorneys representing victims in several lawsuits against the Scouts say the group hid evidence from the public and police and that the so-called perversion files offer insight into what they deem a serious problem in the organization.