The Boy Scouts of America’s “perversion files” are stored in locked cabinets at the organization’s headquarters in Texas, accessible to only a few people.
The documents detail allegations of sexual abuse against expelled Scout leaders, ostensibly to prevent them from participating in Scouting again.
"It is a fact that Scouts are safer because the barrier created by these files is real," Boy Scouts Chief Executive Robert Mazzuca said in June.
But a review of the files by the Los Angeles Times found that more than 125 men on the blacklist were able to access – and allegedly continue to prey on – Boy Scouts.
Some falsified their identities, while others took advantage of shoddy bookkeeping to turn up at other Boy Scout troops.
One Minnesota man spent time behind bars for abusing a boy and returned to lead his troop again as soon as he was released in 1991, the Times found.
An Indiana scoutmaster who was convicted in 1970 of abusing a 14-year-old boy went on to lead two troops in Illinois from 1971 to 1988. He eventually confessed to assaulting more than 100 other boys and was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
The “ineligible volunteers” files have existed since 1919. They were computerized in 1975.
Until 1988, Scout leaders accused of child abuse only faced probation, not immediate expulsion. A criminal background check requirement was added in 2008, and in 2010 the Boy Scouts officially required suspected abuse be reported to police.
In response to the Los Angeles Times,’ review, the organization said in a statement, "The Boy Scouts of America believes even a single instance of abuse is unacceptable, and we regret there have been times when the BSA's best efforts to protect children were insufficient. For that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims."