The Boy Scouts of America kept files for decades on roughly 5,000 employees, scoutmasters and volunteers nationwide -- including at least 48 in the D.C. area -- that the group thought might be sexually abusing children, according to documents released Thursday.

In most cases, the files show, police were contacted, criminal cases went forward and the scoutmaster or volunteer was found guilty of a sex offense.

(See a list of all cases from D.C., Maryland and Virginia)

Yet, in several instances, the sex abuser was able to slip back into the organization despite the conviction.

One of the examples of a sex offender who remained with the Scouts after a molestation conviction is Mark F. Bumgarner, a former Eagle Scout and scoutmaster, now living in a homeless shelter in Fort Belvoir.

The Boy Scouts of America placed him on probation after he pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a child as a college student in North Carolina in 1979, but he later became district leader for the Scouts in Springfield, where in 1988 he was convicted in Fairfax County of sexually abusing two children, ages 11 and 13.

Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America, issued a statement apologizing to the victims and families that the Scouts were unable to protect, and said the organization is committed to improving its safeguards.

"There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong," Perry said.

The Los Angeles Times published the files Thursday after the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of a portion of the information. Dating back to 1949, the files of each person accused contained court documents, newspaper clippings and private memorandums within the Boy Scouts organization.

Some of the area cases had been well-publicized at the time of their occurrences. Then-U.S. Rep. Robert Bauman, R-Md., who was affiliated with the Boy Scouts on the Eastern Shore, was quietly put on the organization's blacklist after his arrest for picking up a 16-year-old male prostitute in 1980.

David MacDonald Rankin, who was a scoutmaster in College Park, was convicted of sexually abusing teenage Scouts between 1984 and 1987. He forced Scouts to have sex with him in an initiation ceremony for a youth group he called "The Rowdies."

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Reached by phone at his Bowie home Thursday, Rankin said he had no comment.

Many on the list have since died, including a Riverdale man who claimed in his obituary last year to be a "life member" with the Boy Scouts of America, even after his banishment.

Dr. Fred Berlin, director of the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit at Johns Hopkins University, said he was surprised at the sheer number of people accused of sex abuse within the Scouting program.

"Any number is disturbing," Berlin said. "The fact that it's that large makes it more disturbing."

Data Editor Jennifer Peebles contributed to this report.