The court in this case handed out the largest award, as at 2015, for compensatory damages against the national BSA. Coming on the back of the acclaimed Kerry Lewis’ ruling in 2012, the decision in this case was seen as a gate thrown open, and sympathetic to similar lawsuits. It was also received warmly and widely both in the news and on social media.
The issues determined centered around the sexual abuse of the victim and the subsequent cover-up by the Boy scouts. Evidence was adduced to show that the cover-up was done actively and to the full awareness of the defendants.
The plaintiff, who was born in June 1964, was a member of a boy scout group in New Fairfield during the Mid-1970s. A Siegfried Hepp, who was born in 1961, was the plaintiff’s patrol leader. Hepp had sexually abused the plaintiff on three different occasions.
On the first two occasions, Hepp and the plaintiff were at a Boy Scout Camp. Hepp had coaxed the plaintiff to go on a fishing trip and, when they were alone in the woods, had performed oral sex on him. The third occasion was in the plaintiff’s tent at a Boy Scout Jamboree, where Hepp had told him to take his pants off and then had anal sex with him. In 2012, the plaintiff sued.
The plaintiff, who did not make any claims for economic damages, centered two major arguments. First, that he (plaintiff) had suffered physical, emotional and psychological injuries due to Hepp’s actions.
The plaintiff also alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress, recklessness and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) GS§ 42-110a et seq. He further alleged that the defendant (the BSA) defendant had negligently failed to take adequate precautions to protect him from and prevent Hepp’s abuse.
Apparently, Hepp had continued a steady rise in the ranks to hold several leadership positions up to a Scoutmaster until his arrest in 1999. His promotions coming, even after allegations arose of his conduct.
In its denied motion for summary judgment, the BSA claimed it did not have notice of any alleged sexual abuse by Hepp and that it did not own an actual duty of care to Doe. To which the plaintiff responded, by showing in evidence, decades of the “ineligible volunteer files” or the “perversion files”, referenced in the complaint and known to be kept hidden by BSA showing that they not only knew of the abuse, but took efforts to conceal the allegations of sexual misconduct.
The jury found the BSA liable for the abuses suffered by the plaintiff. They also found that the BSA reckless for encouraging Doe and other youth scouts, despite their knowledge of sexual allegations, to spend time alone with their Troop leaders. With the trial judge going on to award nearly $5 million in punitive damages, rendering a total verdict of $11.8 million against Boy Scouts of America.
The compensatory damage amount is the largest known in the history of cases against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
This case is largely considered as a trailblazer for subsequent litigation despite the subsequent successful appeal, by the defendants, of the trial court’s decision.
The court’s hardline stance against the BSA certainly ensured progress into reaching favorable decisions in subsequent and similar cases. We urge victims of Boy Scout sexual abuse to act quickly, come forward and consult our Boy Scout lawsuit attorneys.
Our Boy Scout Sexual abuse attorneys at Oshan & Associates are ready to fight and see that justice is done in your case. Contact us immediately at (206) 335-3880 or (621)-421-4062 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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