April 24 (UPI) -- Attorneys have identified more than 180 people with the Boy Scouts of America in New York and New Jersey accused of sexually abusing children over many years.
Jeff Anderson & Associates told reporters Tuesday in both states some of the scout leaders abused children in their care virtually unchecked. Attorneys in Manhattan said 130 leaders from New York City and the Hudson Valley were involved in abuse, while 52 were identified in New Jersey.
Jeff Anderson accused the Boy Scouts of shielding the names of more than 7,800 adults involved nationwide and said his firm is planning legal action. The number of victims is reported to be more than 12,200, an expert who's worked with the organization said in newly released court documents. The records were released by Anderson's firm Tuesday.
"The alarming thing about this is not just the numbers," Anderson said. "The fact is that the Boy Scouts of America has never actually released these names in any form that can be known to the public. They may have removed them from scouting, they may have kept them in their perversion file, but they never alerted the community."
Attorneys in Seattle brought attention in 2012 to private Ineligible Volunteer Files, or "perversion files" -- documents they say were kept by the organization about Boy Scout leaders accused of sex abuse. Anderson accused the organization of hiding the information.
"This is about the institution failing to do the right thing, failing to disclose these names," New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro said in a news conference. "It shouldn't be us disclosing these names. It should be the Boy Scouts."
Anderson, who likened the case to similar scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church, said the Boy Scouts have records dating back to the 1940s of leaders involved in sex abuse.
"It's a systematic problem," he said. "These are perversion files and secrets held by the Boy Scouts of America."
The Boy Scouts of America issued an apology to any child who's been harmed while participating with the iconic organization.
"We believe victims, we support them and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice," the organization said. "Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children."