For several years now, the Boy Scouts of America has been embroiled in controversies relating to allegations of child sexual abuse. Over the years, a spate of lawsuits were filed by individual claimants alleging abuse by boy scouts leaders and volunteers, as well as the likely collusion of the organization itself. But no one really knew the magnitude of the problem, until recently.
Since the Boy Scouts of America was forced to release a set of highly confidential documents in 2012, it has become clear that sexual abuse has been a long-running problem in the organization. Sadly, these documents not only show that the organization knew that innocent children were being molested by its own volunteers, they also clearly indicate an attempt to cover up these incidents.
Lawsuits are now being filed against the Boy Scouts of America as hundreds of former scouts open up on their harrowing tales of abuse. As the US legal system has become more supportive and willing to listen to their stories, many victims who had long given up hope of justice are now finding the courage to come forward.
At Oshan and Associates, our Boy Scouts sexual abuse attorneys have been investigating the allegations against the Boy Scouts of America. If you or your loved one was a victim of molestation, rape, indecent touching or any other form of sexual abuse while in the boy scouts, our attorneys would like to help you seek justice.
The injustice done to scouts by the same leaders they trusted to support them and teach them how to be moral and ethical adults is unforgivable. Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our Boy Scouts lawsuit attorneys.
About the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has, for a long time now, been considered an essential part of American society. For more than a century, the organization has played a crucial role as one of the most important social and community organizations in the nation.
The BSA was founded in 1910 to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime”. With more than 2 million youth members and almost a million volunteers, the BSA is regarded as one of the largest youth organizations in the US. Its annual revenue is in the hundreds of millions and, along with its local councils, the organization holds assets worth approximately $5 billion.
The organization, which prides itself on providing a fun, hands-on learning environment where kids can learn crucial life skills, has played a role in the lives of most American children. Since its founding, approximately 110 million American children have passed through the organization and been involved in its activities.
For most of these children, which have included several prominent individuals and four US presidents, scouting was a positive life experience. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for several thousand children, who, rather than enjoy the fun memories and life skills promised, have had to live most of their adult lives with the dark memories of sexual abuse. As a result, many are pursuing relief by filing lawsuits through boy scouts sexual abuse attorneys.
Why are people suing the BSA?
Since the early 2000’s there have been mounting allegations of child sexual abuse against the BSA. Reports indicate that there were more than 2,000 reported cases within the organization before 1994 and at least one incident reported more recently in 2006.
However, the history of sexual abuse goes back even longer than that. A former Chief Scout Executive of the organization, J.L. Tarr, confessed to the Washington Times that sexual abuse has been an issue “since the Boy Scouts began”. These issues of abuse were being recorded from all over the 50 states of the US.
A 1991 investigation by the Washington Times revealed that more than 1,000 scouts reported being abused by their leaders over a 19-year period from 1971 to 1990. The investigation uncovered files showing over 230 scout leaders were banned from volunteering due to sexual misconduct between 1975 and 1984.
The investigation also included a detailed list of 416 cases of scout leaders who were either arrested or banned as a result of their abuse. There were rumors of several other reported cases that had either been covered up or settled in secrecy.
These cases sparked a flurry of lawsuits against the BSA, including 50 lawsuits by families of molested children against the abusers themselves. These lawsuits resulted in settlements and compensation of more than $15 million.
After new information was revealed due to a 2010 verdict against the BSA, more people are suing. Quite simply, the reports indicate that the BSA had a child molestation problem of severe proportions on its hands and failed to do enough to stop it.
BSA alleged to have exposed more than 12,000 children to sexual abuse
According to information released by Attorney Jeff Anderson, the BSA’s internal records show that tens of thousands of children were sexually abused by its scout leaders.
The information, which was revealed through sworn testimony by a researcher that the BSA itself hired to do an internal review, indicated that at least 12,254 children were abused by almost 8,000 scout leaders.
Even with these figures, the full picture of the horrifying scale of abuse condoned by the BSA is still far from complete as the information does not show everything the organization knew. Over more than 100 years, the BSA actively kept track of sexual abuse allegations against its scout leaders and volunteers, and yet it failed to make this known.
The organization knew about these incidents, and disturbingly, tried to cover up several of them. Even after becoming aware of the alleged sexual depravity of thousands of implicated scout leaders, it did not sound the alarm but allowed these people return to their communities.
Worse, the Los Angeles Times reports that the BSA further endangered its scouts by allowing several of these implicated individuals return to scouting. They report at least 50 instances where these known pedophiles were able to rejoin the scouts either due to unforgivably lax controls or because a BSA executive lifted their suspension.
The records of these thousands of abusers secretly kept by the BSA are now in the public record and have come to be known as the “perversion files”.
The perversion files and BSA cover up
The BSA was first ordered to hand over its secret documents that recorded sexual abuse by its scout leaders by the Washington Supreme Court in 2007. Those documents indicated that up to 180 of the organization’s scout leaders and volunteers were being removed every year for reasons including child abuse. But this was only the tip of the iceberg.
After the 2010 case of Lewis v Boy Scouts of America et al., the BSA was ordered to release further files to the public. These highly confidential files were internally known as the “ineligible volunteer” files and contained details of thousands of reported abusers between 1965 to 1985.
Although the BSA fought very hard to block the release of these files, they were finally brought to light in 2012 and have since been nicknamed the “perversion files”. These files, which are only a chunk of the highly classified documents maintained by the BSA for over 90 years, show the extent of depravity that was hidden by the organization.
The documentation, which includes more than 20,000 pages, show the records of about 1,200 alleged abusers. Despite knowing about these abusers, the BSA failed to take significant action to stop the problem and even tried to cover it up.
Several reports, including this one from the Charleston Gazette, show that the BSA may have helped cover up these incidents “to protect the good name and good works of scouting”.
Another report by the New York Times quoted a former BSA executive as writing “I would like to let this case drop … one father has threatened legal action which could only injure the Boy Scouts of America. My personal opinion in this particular case is, ‘if it don’t stink, don’t stir it.’”
Even though the BSA is required by its Charter to send yearly reports to Congress, nothing of this was mentioned. When further reports came to light that the BSA had allowed suspected abusers return to scouting, BSA chief scout executive, Michael B. Surbaugh, denied in a letter to Congress, only to turn around and admit later on.
Currently, there are court orders directing the BSA to release its post-1985 “ineligible volunteer” files so a fuller picture of the abuse epidemic can be provided to the public. But the BSA has refused and is fighting the release of these files on appeals. There are orders in place from courts in Minnesota, Texas and California.
The terrible effects of child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse is a traumatic experience that can leave its victims with life-altering and long-lasting damage. The harm suffered due to this abuse can leave lasting emotional, physical, psychological and behavioral scars. The damage often includes:
The harm suffered by these individuals can, and often is, severe enough to derail their life circumstances and create troubled adults. Most require months or even years of counseling to move beyond the effects of sexual abuse and even with counseling, many are still hurt by the memories of their experience.
Sexual abuse is a terrible thing for anybody to contend with whether as a child or an adult and when children are exposed to the high possibility of sexual abuse, such actions are unforgivable. The facts so far indicate that the BSA unjustifiably and unreasonably exposed innocent children to abuse by predators.
Our Boy Scouts lawsuit attorneys at Oshan and Associates will do everything in their power to see that this injustice is corrected and that its victims are given the closure they deserve.
Lawsuits against the BSA
Since the explosive revelations came to light, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the BSA and hundreds more are expected to be filed. The lawsuits claim that the BSA failed to discharge the trust placed in it by parents and the children in its custody and unreasonably exposed these children to harm.
While the BSA introduced its Youth Protection Plan in the mid-1980s in response to its sexual abuse issues, these lawsuits argue that the organization did not do enough. Further, by covering up incidents and allowing proven (and alleged) predators return to scouting, they committed an egregious breach of their duty to both children and the community.
In Lewis v Boy Scouts of America et al., these were the exact same facts that led to the harm done to the plaintiff. The abuser in that case, Timur Dykes, had admitted to a local BSA coordinator that he had sexually abused 17 boy scouts. Yet, he was allowed to continue scouting and subsequently abused Lewis, the plaintiff in this case.
The severity of BSA’s complicity in the harm to the plaintiff led to an overall award of $19.9 million to the plaintiff, including punitive damages of $18.5 million. This was the largest ever punitive award to a sole plaintiff in a US child abuse case.
Several other lawsuits are being filed as hundreds of victims, now adults, find their voice and come out to hold the BSA responsible for its cruel negligence over the years.
BSA bankruptcy threatens to deprive victims of justice
Sadly, those who seek justice are now being required to do so without delay or risk having their right to justice barred for life. The BSA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 18, 2020 with the purported aim of creating a trust to compensate victims.
While the BSA had insurance that would cover sexual abuse claims, many of these insurers are withdrawing coverage. They argue that the BSA knew about the abuse happening right under its nose and failed to inform the insurance companies.
However, the practical implication of the bankruptcy means that victims must come forward and file their claim before the “bar date” set by the court. Victims that do not file their claim before the end of this period, which lasts till November 16, 2020, will likely forfeit their claim against the BSA.
This situation is regrettable as victims should not have to choose between facing the pain of coming out before they are ready and losing out on what may be their only opportunity for justice.
If you were victimized by the BSA’s negligence, know that you can rely on the discretion and sensitivity of our attorneys to help you find the strength to tell your story.
Let our Boy Scouts lawsuit attorneys help
At Oshan and Associates, we have successfully fought for victims of sexual abuse and molestation for many years, including in widespread issues such as clergy abuse. We are not afraid to hold large and powerful organizations responsible for their actions and we know how to win these cases.
We understand the discretion and care that these cases require and know how to obtain desired results, without compromising your privacy and confidentiality. If you or a loved one was sexually abused while in the boy scouts, we want to fight for justice on your behalf. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and share your story with our Boy Scouts sexual abuse attorneys.
If you are a victim of unlawful sexual conduct such as rape, molestation, clergy abuse, boy scout molestation, and unwanted sexual touching call Personal Injury law firm Oshan & Associates today. We fight for justice. Visit our Sexual Abuse Blog for helpful tips and information.