The Texas-based scouting organization Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been no stranger to allegations of sexual abuse in recent years, and on Monday, August 5, 2019, a landmark lawsuit against BSA was filed, seemingly bringing allegations of sexual abuse near a tipping point.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Pennsylvania man who was allegedly drugged and forced to drink alcohol by his former scoutmaster who then sexually abused him repeatedly across a span of 5 years.
The group of lawyers filing the suit against BSA claims it has nearly 800 additional victims who were sexually abused during their time in the BSA.
The suit, which could be the first of many, also alleges that at least 350 sexual predators do not appear in the Boy Scouts’ disciplinary files — adding to evidence that BSA has grossly mishandled cases of sexual abuse within its organization and potentially hidden life-saving information. Such details of abuse, if made public, might have served to protect other scouts from also becoming victims of sexual abuse.
Is the Boy Scouts’ ‘Blacklist’ Incomplete?
The BSA’s internal sexual-abuser blacklist, known as the “ineligible volunteer files,” detail information regarding scout leaders and scout volunteers who have been associated with predatory behavior and pedophilia. In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of those files into the public domain.
According to the latest BSA sexual abuse lawsuit, however, these released files are incomplete. The complaint states:
“It is apparent that the Boy Scout Defendants continue to hide the true nature of their cover-up and the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organizations because the vast majority of new victims coming forward involve claims of abuse at the hands of pedophiles who are not yet identified by the Boy Scouts of America.
Boy Scouts Defendants continue to perpetuate a continuing and serious conspiracy to conceal and cover up many of their abusers in BSA scout troops throughout the United States and beyond.”
Boy Scouts of America: A History of Pedophilia
Formerly a fabled American tradition, scouting has grown increasingly tainted, as sexual abuse allegations continue to dog Boy Scouts of America year after year. Earlier in 2019, court testimony was revealed showing that BSA itself believed more than 7,800 of its former scout leaders were involved in sexually abusing children across a span of 72 years.
Much like the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America has fought hard to save face and to ensure the public that they are doing all they can to stem problems of sexual abuse. In a written response to the lawsuit, BSA said it has taken steps to treat all allegations seriously:
“Our efforts have already resulted in approximately 120 reports to the lead law enforcement agency in each state with an accusation of abuse. We have also contacted local law enforcement for all the cases in which enough information was provided to identify the correct agency.
We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.”
For survivors of sexual abuse, an apology is simply not enough. Perpetrators of sexual abuse must be brought to justice and BSA’s long history of concealing records regarding sexual predators within the organization needs to end.
BSA Sexual Predators Hide in Plain Sight
Sexual predators follow similar patterns of abuse, and child molesters in the BSA organization are no different. As noted by USA Today, the accused men are typically prominent figures within their local communities — people who willingly volunteer their time to the organization. In the past, such men have occupied working positions as doctors, firefighters and policemen, public officials, and local teachers, among others.
These BSA volunteers not only participate in activities with the young scouts, they also are responsible for chaperoning trips, driving children to and from various locations, supervising activities, and hosting events. Given this easy access to young, vulnerable children, predators manipulate both kids and their parents into thinking they are there only to protect children, ultimately operating within plain sight.
Their game is utterly sickening, and it has gone on unchecked for far too long.
Bankruptcy, Mounting Sexual Abuse Lawsuits on BSA’s Horizon
In a press conference, the group of lawyers responsible for the latest sex abuse allegation against BSA noted that their suit may only be “the tip of the iceberg.” Much like the Roman Catholic Church and other organizations and companies that have concealed invaluable information from the public, BSA may soon need to figure out a way to pay for potentially hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits fast-approaching on the horizon.
The prospect of filing for bankruptcy has been floated several times in the past few years and remains a real possibility should sexual abuse lawsuits against BSA find success in the courtroom. In fact, this consideration is a part of why the group of lawyers decided to file their case now, noting that should BSA file for bankruptcy, there needs to be a way that sexual abuse survivors can access just compensation for the pain, suffering, and trauma they’ve been made to bear.
In a 2016 BSA report, the organization said, “In the event that General Liability Insurance Program or its reserves are insufficient to resolve such claims, it is the opinion of the Nation Council [of Boy Scouts of America] that the total payments to resolve current and future claims could have a significant impact on the financial position or the results of operations of the National Council.”
If BSA filed for bankruptcy, then all existing sexual abuse lawsuits would be paused, and no new litigation would be allowed to be filed until the bankruptcy is resolved — which could take years.
Sexual Abuse Victims Are Stepping Forward
The Boy Scouts of America is not the only organization under immense fire for allegedly concealing knowledge and records of pedophilic activity internally. Allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church continue to make news on a near-weekly clip, bringing further into the light the full extent of the Church’s own coverup.
In many cases, predators were protected by their organizations, such as the Church and BSA. Rather than risk a public-relations disaster by divulging information on sexual predators to the public, organizations like BSA and the Catholic Church made calculated decisions to protect themselves from public scrutiny.
Often, instead of firing known predators outright, they were merely shifted to other scout groups or dioceses.
For survivors of sexual abuse, they may bear the mental and physical scars of their abuse for the rest of their lives. Stepping forward and sharing information about their past or present abuse is incredibly difficult, but it is the first step towards ending the abuse and bringing those responsible to justice. Filing a sexual abuse lawsuit may also protect others from having to face similar abuse from the same predators in the future.
The time to end sexual abuse is now — and your voice matters.
If you or someone you love has been forced to bear the lifelong trauma of sexual abuse, then options may be available. You may be able to recover funds from the perpetrators of your abuse and the organizations that protected them. To learn more, or to see if you may be eligible to file a sexual abuse lawsuit, please fill out the form on this page or contact us today.