An expert witness in a sexual abuse case against the Boy Scouts of America testified Wednesday that the group had better records on child abuse than any other youth organization.
The Portland case involves a scoutmaster who was convicted of molesting several boys.
The trial reached a crucial stage, as expert witness Gary Schoener, a psychologist, took the stand. Schoener said he read through about half of the 1,200 secret files that the Boy Scouts kept on alleged abusers over a 20-year period.
"My main opinion is that it’s an extraordinary body of information very well put together in terms of detail. They’re checking eye color, hair color and other things to be sure of identity. Clearly they realized they had a problem. They created this system to try to deal with it," he said.
Schoener testified on behalf of the plaintiff, who has been identified only as Jack Doe. The plaintiff testified earlier that scouts would sometimes spend the night at scoutmaster Timur Dykes’ apartment before camping trips.
Doe was allowed to sleep in Dykes’ bed, and says he was molested five times. Dykes was convicted of molesting boys in the 1980s. Schoener says by the 1980s, the Boy Scouts of America knew more about the prevalence of abuse than experts like himself.
Defense attorney for the Boy Scouts Paul Xochihua tried to block Schoener from testifying. He said Schoener was only speculating about what kind of abuse prevention training was normal in the 1980s.
“Mr. Schoener, do you have any knowledge as to what actual training was being offered in the state of Oregon that was available from 1980 to July 31 1984," he said.
Schoener replied that his knowledge was based only on the evidence in the case.
Multnomah county judge John Whittmayer decided his testimony was relevant.
Schoener says the boy scouts had some fair reasons for keeping their files secret. But he said secrecy had a cost.
“This is extended to not talking to the other families or parents who were concerned so in effect other victims are not helped," he said.
Schoener says the scouts should have used the files to educate scout families about how to prevent abuse and deal with the consequences.
Defense attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America will call their witnesses next week.