Young men and their families have put their trust in community leaders and educators for decades. But much of America’s confidence in outdoor programs for boys and girls has been corrupted by allegations of sexual abuse. Sexual abuse cases and Boy Scout lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims recently, and more settlements are likely to follow.
Lawyers have filed a landmark Boy Scout abuse lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to establish the nation’s capital as the primary venue for men across the country who wish to come forward with sexual abuse claims and sue the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Plaintiffs are suing the Boy Scouts for failing to protect them from sexual abuse, allegedly at the hands of scoutmasters and other BSA leaders.
The unnamed plaintiffs in the high-profile lawsuit live in states where statute of limitations laws prevent them from suing the Boy Scouts based on sexual abuse claims from decades ago. Attorneys contend that filing in federal court in Washington is appropriate because the Boy Scouts were incorporated there and later obtained a congressional charter.
Along with several other states, the District of Columbia eased its statute of limitations in 2019 to accommodate some sexual abuse claims. Ohio congressmen have discussed the possibility of a similar move in easing sexual assault statute of limitations laws, but have yet to enact any reform.
The current Boy Scout abuse lawsuit contends that the organization knew early on that it attracted pedophiles to apply and serve as adult leaders, yet avoided public acknowledgement of the child hazards and failed to warn its customer base of suspicions. Furthermore, after sexual assault cases were discovered, the Boy Scouts withheld the information in hopes of keeping a good reputation.
Plaintiffs say the Boy Scouts cared more about preserving its name rather than protecting the youth from potential pedophiles. Plaintiffs are attempting to make their case a national one, and filing in the nation’s capital is as much symbolic as it is practical for victims.
Many victims live in states where statute of limitations laws prevent them from suing for sexual crimes that occurred many years ago. The Boy Scouts has been dealing with such complex sexual abuse litigation for many years, and hundreds of other lawsuits are pending, with victims seeking damages.
The organization says it’s exploring options to maintain its programs and also compensate victims who were abused as scouts. At the group’s peak of popularity in the 1970s, more than four million boys were Scouts, though that number has dropped significantly in recent years.
Boy Scout Abuse
The Boy Scouts says that nearly 8,000 of its volunteers have been excluded from the organization since they were accused of sexual abuse. That is a terrifyingly large number of individuals, the majority of whom have walked away without any criminal charges or even an investigation.
The scandal is much too reminiscent of the Catholic Church Sex Abuse epidemic that continues to deeply affect Ohio and much of the United States.
Joe Lyon is an experienced Sexual Abuse Attorney and personal injury lawyer reviewing church abuse cases and Boy Scout lawsuits on behalf of victims and plaintiffs.
The Lyon Firm is dedicated to bringing sexual perpetrators to justice and seeking compensation for the damages caused.
Scout Sexual Abuse & The ‘Perversion Files’
Recently a professor at the University of Virginia revealed the true scope of Boy Scout sexual abuse when she testified in a trial involving allegations of child sexual abuse in Minnesota. Janet Warren said she had been hired by the Boy Scouts to review data known as the “perversion files.”
The Boy Scouts has compiled information on blacklisted volunteers, members banned for “reasonable allegations of child sexual abuse.” At least 57 Ohio former Boy Scout members are on the Perversion file list.
The Boy Scouts has kept 72 years’ worth of documents, naming over 7,800 potential sexual perpetrators. Ms. Warren has said there has been 12,254 victims since 1944. Some of the same Boy Scout files had already been made public in 2012, recover for a sexual abuse trial in Oregon against a Scout leader.
The Boy Scouts has stated that all accounts of suspected sexual abuse have been reported to police and law enforcement agencies. They released a statement that noted: “At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth.”
But in 2012, The Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press said some local prosecutors and police officials may have protected scouting volunteers accused of abuse in fear that negative publicity would hurt the Boy Scout legacy.
Boy Scout Lawsuits & Settlements
Around 2.2 million children and nearly a million volunteers are members of the Boy Scouts in the U.S. Young men in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana have flocked to the organization to gain a better understanding of the outdoors and leadership skills. Though what should have been a foundation for outdoor education sometimes became a platform for sexual abuse.
The Boy Scouts has acted in its own interests and did not publicly release the 7,800 alleged sexual perpetrator names. They may have removed the individuals form the organization, however, that may have not been enough to prevent further instances of Boy Scout Sexual Abuse.
Under a new law in New York, plaintiffs file sexual abuse claims until they turn 28. In civil cases, victims can sue both abusers and the institutions that enabled them until they are 55 years of age.
Boy Scout Lawsuits may have a tighter statute of limitations, though settlement for many victims and plaintiffs can be sought in the court of law. In Oregon in 2010, a jury found the Boy Scouts liable for $18.5 million in punitive damages after a scout was sexually abused at age 12 by an assistant troop leader.
Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations
Young men who are abused are understandably reluctant to come forward and report a crime. Many fail to ever come forward and spend many years with the pain of the incident etched in their heart and mind. Others who do come forward, try only to file a report for closure and find it may be too late to file charges.
Ohio statute of limitations laws dictate that a rape must be reported within 20 years in most cases. Other sexual assault and abuse crimes must be filed within two years.
As the Boy Scouts of America case evolves, lawyers for at least eight plaintiffs, identified as John Does 1 through 8, living in states where statute of limitations laws would normally prevent them from pressing sexual abuse charges, based on alleged crimes occurring decades ago, are filing lawsuits in Washington, D.C.
The plaintiffs and their attorneys say federal court in Washington is an appropriate venue for the sexual abuse lawsuit because the Boy Scouts were originally incorporated in the nation’s capital.
Lawyers across the country involved in child sex abuse cases and church abuse lawsuits are seeking to ease the existing statute of limitations laws to accommodate unusual claims like those seen in the Boy Scout Abuse lawsuit.