The terms of the settlement of the Idaho suit against the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have not been disclosed, but a document filed Nov. 15 in U.S. District Court in Boise says both sides agreed to an undisclosed monetary settlement.
The federal lawsuit asked for $5 million. Lawyers for the LDS Church and the Scouts Ore-Ida Council were not available for comment Friday. Oregon lawyer Gilion Dumas, who sued on behalf of a Portland man who said he was sexually abused as a Boy Scout in Idaho, said she couldnt discuss the settlement, which will be final once a judge approves a mutual request to dismiss the suit.
The lawyers began negotiating after U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill ruled the case could proceed to trial. At issue was not alleged sexual abuse by Scoutmaster Larren B. Arnold of Nampa, but what Dumas described as institutional fraud by the Scouts and the church to portray the organizations as safe places for boys, despite knowledge of a pedophilia epidemic within its leadership ranks. The case was detailed in a Nov. 6 Idaho Statesman article.
Dumas crafted the legal argument after reviewing thousands of documents released by the Boy Scouts in response to another lawsuit filed by a law firm for which she works in Oregon.
The so-called perversion files released publicly for the first time last month show it was common for suspected pedophiles to move from one troop to another because the secretive nature of the documents made it difficult for Scout officials to know who had been in trouble elsewhere.
Leaders also could leave Scouting and get involved in other youth activities anywhere in the country because there was no way for other organizations to access the files, which the Scouts had kept since at least 1920.
FEARING A SPECTACLE
By the time Dumas client joined the Scouts in 1966, at least 1,000 files existed that pertained to adults abusing young Scouts, according to court documents. The Boy Scouts of America was creating 40 to 60 new files each year, according to court documents. But it was difficult for local Scouting organizations to access the files.
That appears to have been the case with James Phillip Schmidt, a Treasure Valley scoutmaster accused by Idaho native Ron Morgan of molesting him in a 2007 lawsuit that has since been dismissed. Schmidt was among eight Idaho men named in the documents released last month by Dumas law firm, ODonnell, Clark & Crew.
According to Schmidts file, in May 1981, nearly two years after Ore-Idaho Council Executive Rex Black first wrote national Scouting leaders about Schmidt, Black wrote another letter alerting the national organization that Schmidt had again been asked to stop working with Scouts. This time, the request came from the LDS Church in Nampa over questions about homosexual activities.
Black said he planned to again ask Schmidt to cease all volunteer work with the Scouts, according to the May 13, 1981, letter. But Black feared a public spectacle and had told Schmidt so in 1979, warning him that a legal case would bring bad publicity to Schmidt and to the Scouts.
That fear was common throughout Idaho and the United States, the files show.
When Barry Charles Pringle, of St. Maries, pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a minor in 1982, Idaho Panhandle Council Scout executive Thomas Stolz noted in correspondence with national leaders that while the victim was a Scout, Scouting has been kept out of the public notices.
Stolz had Pringle, then 45, placed in the national perversion files, which was meant to ban him from Scouting, and noted that he was moving to Port Angeles, Wash., and wanted to get involved in Scouting there. Its unclear if he ever did, but no further public documents exist pertaining to him.
Other Idaho cases never were prosecuted.
When a Boy Scout told officials hed been molested at a camp by Arthur Krigbaum in Weiser, no contact with police ever was documented. And Krigbaum doesnt appear to have been banned from Scouting: An Oct. 17, 1974, document in his file said Scouting officials would closely monitor him and had decided not to pursue a case again Krigbaum for the good of the boy.
The boys scoutmaster also insists the boys parents not be informed of this incident apparently for the boys own good, according to Krigbaums file.
Neither Pringle nor Krigbaum could be reached for comment; its unclear where they live and if they still are alive.
SLOW TO RESPOND
Scouting officials took little action at first against Schmidt, the leader accused of abuse in the 2007 lawsuit.
Despite early allegations of child sexual abuse, it took years before Schmidt was officially placed in the files. For reasons not documented, on Feb. 18, 1982, Black declined an offer by national leaders to place Schmidts records in a confidential file aimed at keeping Schmidt from volunteering anywhere else in the country.
It came back to haunt Black, who lived in Boise.
Nampa police arrested Schmidt on lewd conduct charges in February 1983. In a letter to Scout lawyers, Black noted considerable adverse publicity locally.
Im getting some pressure stating that I was aware of the situation for more than four years but I did nothing, Black wrote. Several times I alerted both professional staff and district people that they should not use Jim Schmidt each time I was assured that Jim was okay, and I was accused of not liking Jim.
A month later, Schmidts name was placed in the confidential files. He doesnt appear to have worked with the Scouts since then.
Despite undergoing psychological treatment for pedophilia, Schmidt was convicted of molesting a boy in Maryland in 1996. Hes now a registered sex offender in Hagerstown, Md., and is classified as likely to re-offend. He could not be reached for comment.
Blacks son, Rex Black of Boise, told the Statesman that his father died 14 years ago and has been unfairly criticized for his work with the Scouts.
He wasnt doing some cover-up for some pervert, Black said. At that time, I guess the proper procedure wasnt to have them send it to the police department. It should have been, but apparently it wasnt. If there had been any policy that said they need to be turned in to police, Im sure my dad would have followed protocol.
The Ore-Ida Council referred questions for this article to the national organization, which has released this statement in response to media inquires about the perversion files: There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children and, in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect or, worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families. The statement also discussed improved safety measures taken by the organization.
The Scouts began training boys in the early 1980s about potential dangers from adults, but even then it didnt say anything about scoutmasters, said Dumas, the Portland lawyer.
New volunteers began undergoing background checks in 2001. Longtime volunteers didnt start undergoing background checks until 2008, Dumas said. Child-abuse training was mandated for all troops and troop leaders after the civil trial in Oregon in 2010.
Up until that trial and including during the trial, they said they had no authority to make troops go through training, Dumas said. Then after the trial, they did have that power.
Meghann M. Cuniff: 377-6418