Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 1:59 pm | Fair 70º


Boy Scouts Reach Settlement with Santa Barbara Sex-Abuse Victim

Just a few days into trial in Santa Barbara Superior Court, a settlement has been reached in a sexual-abuse case between the Boy Scouts of America and a 20-year-old man who was molested by a troop leader in 2007.

The settlement, announced Thursday, comes just days before senior members of the Boy Scouts of America were to take the stand, according to the victim's attorney, Tim Hale.

Had the trial continued, Hale said, evidence would have been presented, including sealed "perversion" files that documented sexual-abuse allegations over multiple decades. 

Because of the settlement, those files will remain unpublished.

The terms of the settlement are confidential.

The victim was abused by former volunteer troop leader Al Stein, who was charged with abusing the victim as a 13-year-old and two other victims.  

Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment, and was later found to have violated parole from that case by having photographs of nude children on his cell phone. He was released early after being sentenced to two years in prison.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Registry, Stein is listed as a sex offender living in Salinas.

In a statement sent to Noozhawk, Deron Smith, director of communications for the Boy Scouts of America, said that the group "is pleased that this matter has been resolved and that we reached a settlement. The behavior included in these reports runs counter to everything for which the BSA stands."

“While we can’t comment on the specifics related to this matter, even a single instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. We regret there have been times when the BSA’s best efforts to protect children were insufficient, and for that we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families."

Smith said that nothing is more important than the organization's youth members, and that the files "exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting, and Scouts are safer because those files exist."

“The BSA has always cooperated fully with any request from law enforcement. While a majority of files indicate the involvement of law enforcement, in 2012 the BSA National Council reviewed all Ineligible Volunteer Files from 1965 to the present and reported to authorities any files that did not clearly indicate a prior report.”

Hale stated Thursday that the victim was "really courageous" for testifying during the trial and bringing the case forward in the first place.

"From the moment he reported what happened to him, he was viciously attacked by former members of the troop and their parents, doubting what had happened to him," Hale said of his client.  

"It was five years of people questioning his credibility. I can see the relief he feels."

Hale, who has also worked to make public files documenting clergy abuse in the Franciscan order, an effort that took 12 years, said the fight to publicize the BSA perversion files "is not over."

"You'd like to think they do the right thing and publish those on their own," Hale said of the BSA.

Hale said the case has made parents more vigilant, and that awareness about the abuse may make it more likely that other people come forward.

"That's what wasn't available to my client," he said, adding that the BSA files document a sordid past.

"It's a significant history of abuse."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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