The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the country. It was founded in 1910 to train young people in responsible citizenship through educational programs and outdoor activities like camping and hiking. Since then, an estimated 110 million people have participated in BSA programs, and now many of them are coming forward to allege sexual abuse at the hands of scoutmasters. It seems the acronym BSA might just stand for “Boy Scouts Abused.”
On August 6, a group of attorneys called Abused in Scouting filed a lawsuit against BSA. Their Complaint identified hundreds of scoutmasters and other volunteers who allegedly abused boys, including 11 former scout leaders from North Carolina accused of assaulting children as young as seven years old.
Abused in Scouting now has an estimated 800 clients ranging in age from 14 to 88, and identified abusers from North Carolina. One victim claimed that, over a four-year period in the 1970s, he was sexually assaulted hundreds of times. When NBC News asked BSA whether the alleged abuser was still involved in scouting, there was no immediate response.
What Are The ‘Perversion Files?’
BSA has acknowledged that it maintains what it calls “ineligible volunteer files” (now referred to as the ‘Perversion Files’) with the names of alleged sexual predators. The Perversion Files, which some people allege were concealed from law enforcement, contain approximately 7,800 names of individuals possibly removed from scouting but not restricted from working around young people or volunteering in other youth organizations. BSA insists that, even if it failed to make the Perversion Files public, it created the files in order to keep sex offenders out of scouting.
Although BSA denies concealing the names from law enforcement, an Abused in Scouting attorney hinted at deliberate non-cooperation on the part of BSA. The new lawsuit identifies hundreds of suspected abusers whose names were not previously revealed with the other Perversion Files. An attorney for the plaintiffs claimed that a request for assistance from BSA in identifying perpetrators “hit a stone wall.” Worse, a recent lawsuit suggests that BSA may have actively permitted identified abusers to remain with the organization; in June 2018, an Arkansas man sued a BSA chapter and made the following claims:
- The BSA chapter allowed a scout leader to volunteer even after receiving complaints that he had sexually abused a boy in another state.
- The BSA chapter tried to conceal the sexual assaults by telling the victim not to tell his parents.
- The BSA chapter arranged for the scout leader to be paid severance to ensure that information about the abuse remained secret.
A similar incident occurred in North Carolina in 2012, when the Boy Scouts were accused of hiding information about abusers in the Raleigh area. According to an article entitled “The Nightmare of Troop 39”, the organization failed to notify parents that their children had been abused. When some parents did discover the abuse, according to the article, BSA actively discouraged those parents from alerting law enforcement.
You Are Not At Fault Or Alone
If you or your child was sexually abused while participating with the Boy Scouts, it was not the fault of the child or the parent. When sexual predators with a propensity to abuse children assume leadership or mentorship positions in youth organizations, they often manipulate their young victims and dissuade them from reporting the assaults. They may also manipulate parents into concealing, dismissing, or downplaying a child’s claims of sexual assault. Children and parents who fall victim to this intentional plan of attack should not blame themselves but instead should look to the predator and institutions that perpetrated and permitted the actions.
You are also not alone. While sexual abuse among the Boy Scouts once was regarded as a few isolated incidents, it is now recognized as an institution-wide abuse scandal that was poorly investigated and handled. The Perversion Files not only lists 7,800 alleged perpetrators, it also identifies more than 12,200 possible victims of sexual abuse. Many of those 12,200 victims may be located in North Carolina and are still living with the trauma of their abuse. They deserve justice.
Last year, the BSA claimed to be considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of its growing legal woes. If BSA files for bankruptcy, all creditors (including those seeking financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit) will have a limited time in which to file their claim. If you were sexually abused by a scoutmaster or BSA volunteer, it is important to preserve your legal rights and contact a North Carolina sexual abuse attorney immediately.
At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, we know that victims of childhood sexual abuse experience pain and emotional distress that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Allowing abusers to continue to harm victims is especially reprehensible and inexcusable, and it must be stopped. If these allegations are true, Boy Scouts of America and its chapters here in North Carolina, have been negligent in protecting young people from sexual predators and should be held accountable.
Even victims who suffered abuse years ago may be able to pursue a claim against BSA and sexual abuser. Not only will legal action help to hold them accountable, but it may also help prevent future abuse of others and may result in compensation to the victims and their families. Many victims of sexual abuse require lifelong psychological care and suffer permanent loss of income potential due to their trauma. They also may be entitled to punitive damages in some cases. We care about you and want to hear your story, so please contact us.