More than 12,000 members of the Boy Scouts of America have been victims of sexual abuse since 1944, a number higher than previously known, a New York lawyer said Tuesday.
Jeff Anderson, who represents victims of sexual abuse, also said that files maintained by the Boy Scouts list more than 7,800 alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse -- a figure that was also higher than what has been previously reported.
The existence of the Boy Scout files -- known as the "perversion files," listing scoutmasters or troop leaders accused of sexual abuse -- has been known since a 2012 court case in the state of Oregon.
But Anderson said a court case this year in Minnesota had revealed numbers of victims and perpetrators that were higher than previously known.
He said the new figures came from an audit performed by Janet Warren of the University of Virginia, who has been working with the Boy Scouts of America.
"She says there are over 12,000 victims identified in those files," Anderson said.
"We also know that she identified that there are over 7,800 perpetrators known to the Boy Scouts and recorded in their perversion files.
"They said there are 5,000 files," he said. "She says there are 7,800, so that's 50 percent more."
"The alarming thing about this is not just the numbers but the fact that the Boy Scouts of America have never actually released these names in any format that can be known to the public," Anderson said.
Noting that New York state has changed the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims, Anderson urged victims to come forward with their stories.
Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America currently have some 2.4 million members.
In a statement, the organization said they "care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting."
"We believe victims, we support them, and we have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice," the Boy Scouts 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."