Alaska News Nightly: October 19, 2012

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Boy Scouts Release ‘Perversion Files’

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

This week the Boy Scouts of America publicly released more than 14,000 pages of the previously confidential so-called “perversion files.” The records name 1,200 alleged perpetrators across the country. The files show that seven scout leaders in Alaska used their position of power and trust to abuse children in five communities. The men named in the files volunteered with troops in Juneau, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Ketchikan, Homer and at Eielson Air Force Base, between 1965 and 1985.  Steve Crew is an attorney with the Portland law firm – O’Donnell, Clark & Crew – that brought the case against the Boy Scouts all the way to the Oregon Supreme Court, forcing the release of files containing the names of the alleged perpetrators.

“These files were in what they call their ineligible volunteers. These seven scout leaders were removed from scouting because they sexually abused boy scouts. And so they were kicked out but they were never turned over to law enforcement. And I don’t believe the parents were ever told about this, so it was basically hidden,” Crew said.

Crew says the Boy Scouts kept the information in their so-called ‘perversion files’ – a set of files detailing individual incidents of alleged sexual abuse. The documents released this week were the centerpiece of a 2010 trail in which attorney’s proved that the Boy Scouts of America knew for decades that they had an institution-wide problem with sex abuse, but hid it from the public. The case ended with a jury verdict of nearly $20 million against the Boy Scouts on behalf of a man abused as a boy by a scoutmaster. The files, Crew says, reveal that, in the majority of cases, the Boy Scouts did not share information it gathered about abuse with law enforcement, and that abusers were often able to relocate, work in scouts again and continue abusing children. Clifford Crismore is the current CEO at Boy Scouts of America, Great Alaska Council in Anchorage. He says the Scouts started scrutinizing volunteer applications more closely in the 1980’s.

“We don’t process it until they’ve completed youth protection training which is our policies on how the interaction between youth and adults occur. For example, one on one activity is prohibited. There always has to be two adults on the activity. Once they’ve taken the youth protection training, we do a criminal background check. And if for whatever reason something comes up on the criminal background check, we can deny them membership at that time,” Crismore said.

Attorneys with O’Donnell, Clark & Crew say there is still one case pending concerning a volunteer who led a scouting troop in Anchorage in the 1970’s. The perpetrator in that case is not listed in the released files. But attorneys say that Scout officials destroyed approximately half of all files in the mid-70’s. If the case goes forward, the trial will be held in Anchorage. Crew says his firm is working to make the remaining files from 1985 to 2012 public. Crismore expects there to be far fewer abuse cases in that time period, because of their more stringent policies. Alaska does not have a statute of limitations on most sexual abuse cases. So anyone who comes forward and wants take legal action regarding childhood sexual abuse by a scout leader, may do so.

Report Compiles Spending Numbers On ‘Issue Ads’

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

All but one seat in the state legislature is up for reelection this fall. Combine that with the controversial issue of oil tax reform and Alaskans are hearing and seeing a lot of political ads this campaign season. The Alaska Public Interest Research Group released a report yesterday that compiles spending amounts from groups releasing so-called “issue ads” in the state.

AFN Continues In Anchorage

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention continues in Anchorage through Saturday, when delegates vote on a slate of resolutions.  The resolutions determine AFN’s course of action during the next 12 months and beyond, and if Friday morning’s sessions were any indication, Alaska Natives are gathering their collective political clout to gain greater control over every level of their lives.

Arctic Winter Games Officials Considering Fairbanks As 2014 Venue

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Representatives from circum-polar nations are in Fairbanks to preview venues and plan for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games. The last time the youth sporting event was held in Alaska, was in Kenai in 2006.  The Games International Committee includes members from Alaska, Canadian provinces, Greenland, the Scandinavian Arctic and Russia, and they like what they’re seeing in Fairbanks.

AK: Puppy Love

Mark Arehart, KYUK – Bethel

Dogs are an important part of life in Alaska. They are revered as great athletes and celebrated as trusty companions. And when Bethel reporter Mark Arehart moved to the state recently, he had no trouble jumping on the dog loving bandwagon. He eagerly anticipated owning his first dog, and a few months ago, he brought home an adorable sled dog puppy. We’ll let him take the story from there.

300 Villages: Nome

Now it’s time for 300 villages. And where else would we go for a show about dogs than Nome, the town on the edge of the Bering Sea that hosts the finish of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race each year. Dennis Richardson is the manager at the Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau.