Saturday October 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless says it appears that no one involved in local allegations of sexual abuse against Boy Scouts of America leaders attempted to contact law enforcement.

"It’s pretty sad that nothing was done to protect the victims in any of these cases," Capeless said on Friday.

New documents from a lawsuit over Boy Scout leaders who were suspected of sexually abusing children reveal more than 1,200 cases that the organization kept quiet from the public, but maintained detailed files on.

The files, compiled from 1959 to 1985, were released publicly on Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court. The files were used as evidence in an Oregon lawsuit in 2010 that resulted in the largest judgment ever against the Boy Scouts in a molestation case.

The Scouts tried to keep the files secret but media outlets opposed the move and in June the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that they should be made public after the redaction of victim information.

The files include at least 55 accused people from Massachusetts, including two within Berkshire County. The Eagle is not currently releasing the names of the two men as neither had or have criminal charges against them. One of the local cases was reported in 1963, and the other was in 1976.

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases is 27 years from the time the crime allegedly was committed or from the time the victim turned 16. In the 1976 case, the alleged abuse occurred 36 years ago.

"There are exceptions to the statute of limitations," said Capeless. He wouldn’t elaborate what those exceptions might be.

Capeless said an individual would have to come forward for the case to be investigated by his office. Besides this, he said, prosecutors would have to then discuss the case and determine if it was able to be prosecuted.

Capeless urged anyone who has been abused, whether it involved the Boy Scout organization or not, to come forward and speak to the DA’s office.

"We’re here for all victims," said Capeless. "Even if we can’t prosecute a case, we can still provide them with other services or point them in the direction of services they may need."

In Berkshire County, the 1963 file involves allegations of sexual abuse on boys by a Pittsfield scoutmaster during camping trips. Parents reported the abuse claims, and when confronted, the scoutmaster resigned. The Eagle has learned the man has since died.

The other file, from 1976, documented claims that a North Adams scoutmaster fondled and groped a boy during a camping trip. The scoutmaster, a North Adams man at the time, was relieved from duty and banned from the Boy Scouts. At the time, he denied the incident happened.

Material from The Asso ciated Press was used in this report.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
Twitter @ BE_TheAmelinckx