Six San Luis Obispo County men affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America were suspected of sexual misconduct against minors 30 to 50 years ago, according to documents released Thursday by an Oregon law firm as part of a suit against the national organization.
The list, known as the Boy Scout “perversion files,” is made up of cases investigated by the Boy Scouts or local law enforcement. It’s the first public database on specific abuse accusations.
The files were put together over a 20-year period on 1,247 men nationwide who were accused of abuse between 1965 and 1985, often with multiple victims.
One of them was Jayne Allen Furness, an Arroyo Grande pipefitter who was an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 432. He was charged with several rapes and sexual assaults on minors through much of 1976. One of the last incidents happened only a few weeks before he was suspended in November 1976, according to the internal files.
Furness was later convicted.
According to the law firm O’Donnell, Clark & Crew LLP, the files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations.
The files contain “more than 14,500 pages of previously confidential documents detailing cases of alleged sexual abuse by over 1,200 perpetrators within the Boy Scouts of America and the BSA’s response to those allegations,” according to a news release from the law firm.
Furness, the Arroyo Grande pipefitter, had a wife and four children when concerns about him arose.
He was suspended from the organization on Nov. 13, 1976, according to a Boy Scout internal file.
The file says he was suspended from the group for two reasons: “We have become aware of the fact that he was expelled from the Masonic Lodge in 1972 because of being convicted of a peeping tom charge four years ago. Most recently we have been made aware of that many of his neighbors and other acquaintances have informed us of charges being brought against him.”
His 16 felony counts filed included the rape of a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl. It is unclear whether any of the charges involved Boy Scouts.
After being convicted, Furness was committed to Atascadero State Hospital, according to a 1977 letter from the head of the local Santa Lucia Area Council to the Boy Scout headquarters. “He was found to be dangerous to the community and therefore committed,” noted the letter.
While the details of each local case were not available, most of the files refer to Boy Scout troops in the 1960s and 1970s in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.
The Tribune is not naming the other five noted in the files because there were no documents that offered details or suspicion of sexual misconduct. In one case, a man was suspected of being homosexual and a transvestite, but there was no suggestion of impropriety.
The Los Padres Boy Scout Council executive officer, Rebecca Fields, could not be reached for comment. The Los Padres Council oversees part of San Luis Obispo County’s Boy Scout activities.