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Washington high court orders Boy Scout abuse files unsealed

[JURIST] The Washington Supreme Court official website] ruled [opinion text] 7-2 Thursday that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) [official website] must release files documenting sexual abuse allegations compiled over decades for use in an upcoming lawsuit brought by three Washington men claiming abuse by their scoutmaster in the 1970s and 1980s. The files include court records, news reports, documentation of rumors and tips from parents about abuse. The names of the Boy Scouts, accused perpetrators and the parents of the Boy Scouts have been redacted. The accused scoutmaster settled his part of the lawsuit earlier this year, but the suit continues against the national organization and local branches.

A trial court judge ordered BSA to produce the files for the trial in September 2004, prompting the BSA to appeal the order because the trial court judge had not used a legal test to balance the BSA's First Amendment rights against the lawsuit's demand for information. The three plaintiffs allege [complaint, PDF] that the BSA negligently retained and supervised the scoutmaster, failed to protect the Boy Scouts, and covered up incidents of abuse when they arose. A dissent [opinion text] argued that the trial court should have weighed the lawsuit's demand for information against the right to privacy in the state constitution. AP has more. The Tacoma News Tribune has local coverage.

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