NJ abuse victim wants Boy Scouts to name 7,819 men in ‘perv file’
NEWARK — An Atlantic County man who says he was sexually abused by his scout leader in the 1980s has filed a lawsuit demanding that the Boy Scouts of America release their Ineligible Volunteer Files.
The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday responded by apologizing to 47-year-old Richard Halverson but defended their actions, saying they first learned about abuse allegations against the leader in 1986, reported him to police and eventually expelled him.
Halverson was the first victim to come forward following the release of the names of 50 Boy Scout leaders from New Jersey who were accused of sexually abusing minors decades ago.
The New Jersey names were already part of a 14,500-page report released in 2012 by the Boy Scouts of America. The report included names of accused Scout leaders from around the country but they were not identified by state or troop. The accusations dated from 1965 to 1985.
Attorney Jeff Anderson said there are 7,819 names in the Boy Scouts files entered between 1944 and 2016. That number came to light in January in testimony by Dr. Jane Warren in a Minnesota child abuse case not related to the Boy Scouts, according to CNN.
Warren said she had been hired by the BSA to research the database in order to make it more effective, CNN reported. She said there was no indication the Boy Scouts tried to cover up information.
Halverson's lawsuit, filed Monday in Superior Court, accused Angelo Dellomo, a man who Halverson trusted and respected and considered a mentor as the leader of Troop 6, of making him engage in "unpermitted and illegal sexual contact" in order to earn his physical fitness badge as a Tenderfoot, the first rank of scouting.
Halverson is not seeking monetary compensation in the litigation against the BSA and the Jersey Shore Council, only "the truth" in the form of the release of the files, according to Anderson.
Holding up the badge, Halverson said he was required to to go in the bathroom with Dellomo when he was 11 years old.
"This is what cost me my innocence," Halverson said.
Dellomo's file in the Boy Scouts Ineligible Volunteer Files, which was released by the BSA in 2012, shows Halverson accused Dellomo of requiring him to weigh himself naked in a bathroom, perform a "balance exercise" nude with his legs spread apart while twisting from side-to-side, and stand on the toilet, arch his back and take 75 deep breaths.
Halverson said he never discussed the allegations with anyone until 2013 when a "traumatic event" led him to tell his mother, an attorney and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. He said he was told no criminal action could be taken because the statue of limitations had run out.
Dellomo's occupation was listed as "school teacher" in the files.
The Boy Scouts of America said Tuesday that they "promptly reported [Dellomo] to law enforcement and provided them with all of the information we had so that law enforcement could conduct the investigation and take appropriate actions."
"We deeply apologize to Mr. Halvorson and are outraged that Mr. Dellomo took advantage of our program to harm him," the organization said. "We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims and we support them. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children."
Anderson, however, says that the organization's file, nicknamed the "perversion file," shows that law enforcement in Atlantic County was notified of the allegations against Dellomo but did not turn over all information.
"The perversion file reflects that law enforcement did not investigate, law enforcement did not arrest, law enforcement did not prosecute because they didn't have the information the Boy Scouts had because they kept in their file," Anderson said.
Anderson said his staff's research showed that Dellomo was still active in another scouting organization called the Boy Pioneers of America.
Halverson said he was mad at what the file contained when he was shown Dellamo's file for the first time on Monday.
He said the phrase "no proof" with an exclamation point written next to the text of allegations seemed to be almost celebratory.
"You know who says that? The mob," Halverson said.
He was also struck by repeated use of the word "confidential" in the file, which he took as the BSA's attempt to keep the allegations secret.
"Not anymore," Halverson said.
The Boy Scouts have defended not releasing their Ineligible Volunteer Files because of privacy and legal concerns.
Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive, said the Boy Scouts are not an investigative agency and the first step taken for any allegation of abuse is to immediately remove the volunteer. If an investigation continues by law enforcement, a decision is made about placing the individual on the list permanently.
If there is no conviction or charges resulting from a law enforcement investigation, Surbaugh said the accused person could still be permanently banned from Boy Scouts.
The names are not made pubic because people are added to the list based on suspected violations and they have not always been convicted of any crime, Surbaugh said.
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