Boy Scout Child Abuse Lawsuit

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is supposed to be a way for kids to learn survival skills and the value of teamwork. Unfortunately, Boy Scout troops can attract morally bankrupt men who use their positions as scoutmasters to prey on children.

We are exploring legal action against the Boy Scouts of America for cases in which it may have failed to prevent child abuse.

There are 1,247 BSA files pertaining to instances of molestation or sexual abuse of Scouts between 1965 and 1984. Ostensibly these “perversion files” exist to prevent known abusers from committing these terrible crimes again. But too often, according to the Los Angeles Times, the files and the BSA failed and endangered innocent Boy Scouts.

ClassAction.com attorneys are now exploring legal action against the Boy Scouts of America for cases in which it may have failed to prevent child abuse by BSA scoutmasters, volunteers, or employees.

If you or a loved one were abused by a scoutmaster or another BSA volunteer or employee, please contact us to learn how you can hold them accountable.

50 Suspected Abusers Rejoined the Scouts

In theory, the BSA’s “perversion files” seem like an admirable attempt to document and thwart sexual misconduct in its ranks. But in practice, these files and their supervisors failed the young Scouts time and time again.

“Basically, there were no controls.”

The Times notes 50 instances of known pedophiles who were able to rejoin the Boy Scouts after being “blacklisted.” In some cases, a BSA employee did not check the files before allowing a past offender to join the Scouts. Or the offender used a different name in a different part of the country, or benefited from a clerical or computer error.

In others, like the cases of Mark Bumgarner and Richard Stenger, a BSA executive lifted the offender’s probation or suspension—with disastrous consequences.

Bill Dworin, a retired police expert on child abuse who has reviewed the perversion files, tells the Times, “Basically, there were no controls.”

The BSA seems to have done a fair job documenting the abuse of the children in its ranks. But with at least 50 men—many of whom had multiple victims—the BSA appears to have failed to enforce these “ineligible volunteer” labels. Its defenses were porous.

Because these twisted men were allowed to rejoin the Boy Scouts, hundreds of children have been victimized and traumatized. They may never recover.

The BSA, meanwhile, has done everything in its power to conceal these documents and to prevent these victims from pursuing justice.

BSA Fights to Block Release of Perversion Files

BSA officials say that these files have prevented hundreds of suspected pedophiles from serving as scoutmasters. But according to the Times, the organization also “fought hard in court to keep the records from public view, saying confidentiality was needed to protect victims, witnesses and anyone falsely accused.”

The jury ordered the BSA to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages.

This may be true. But it is certainly true that the Court-ordered 2012 release of more than 1,200 of the “perversion files” sparked a wildfire of bad publicity for the BSA. As did the $18.5 million in punitive damages that a jury ordered in 2010, after Kerry Lewis was victimized by his scoutmaster. (It was this case that prompted the release of the 1965-1984 “perversion files.”)

It also prompted an apology from then-president Wayne Perry, who issued this statement:

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. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families.

But the BSA’s acknowledgment of its “insufficient” efforts has not precluded it from trying to keep other confidential records confidential.

In 2015, the BSA settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought by a 20-year-old former Scout after his former scoutmaster, Al Stein, allegedly molested the plaintiff in 2007. By doing so, the BSA kept 100,000 pages of other “perversion files”—dated from 1991 to 2007—sealed off from the public.

This is not the only way the Boy Scouts of America have tried to silence victims of sexual abuse.

BSA Helped Kill Child Victims Act

The state of New York has a famously harsh statute of limitation that requires child victims of sexual abuse to file charges by the time they turn 23. For context, some states have no statute of limitations at all for these cases.

Some lawmakers want to change that. In 2016, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) proposed the Child Victims Act, a law that would eliminate or extend New York’s statute of limitation.

The bill fell just short of reaching the state legislature’s floor for a vote that summer. The next year, 2017, Republican Congresspersons killed the bill—after intense lobbying by the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church.

In announcing his 2018 budget plan, Governor Andrew Cuomo emphasized that he wanted the Child Victims Act to pass. Given the #MeToo movement and ever-louder support for victims of sexual abuse, this could be the year the bill succeeds.

We Fight for Survivors of Abuse

Nothing could ever make up for the horrors of sexual abuse, but by filing a lawsuit, survivors of abuse may be able to obtain at least a small measure of relief and justice.

ClassAction.com attorneys are now exploring legal action against the Boy Scouts of America for cases in which it may have failed to prevent child abuse by BSA scoutmasters, volunteers, or employees.

If you or a loved one were abused by a scoutmaster or another BSA volunteer or employee, please contact us to learn how you can hold them accountable.

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