In recent years the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have been under increased scrutiny as a growing number of sex abuse victims come forward to tell their horrifying experiences that occurred when they were children. As the scandal widens, various states are looking at ways victims can be protected with the right to come forward after extended periods of time to share their stories and receive justice for the traumatic suffering they've endured.
In April, the Washington Post reported 220 new victims came forward. The attorney for the victims said in a phone interview with the news agency that “Kids are still being abused in scouting,” noting it’s not only “historical” in nature.
The date range for the latest Boy Scout victims to come forward indicates the crimes committed were 1953 to 2018, with the victims now aged 75 to 15. The alleged crimes have occurred across the country in 33 different states. Additionally, in May the Los Angeles Times reported additional allegations brought to light by the same attorney indicates the alleged crimes occurred in 48 states and victims’ age range is from 97 to 14. These allegations list 234 male abusers.
Another attorney revealed the names of over 180 BSA leaders in New York and New Jersey alone who have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors.
These hundreds of new victims to come forward with their shocking stories add to “an already extraordinary tally” of sexual abuse claims made against the Boy Scout organization. Back in 2012 a database was uncovered that detailed more than 5,000 files against troop leaders and other adults associated with BSA.
A significant number of these claims were previously sealed as confidential, and it is suspected many more cases of sexual abuse have not yet been reported. Since 2012, researchers hired by BSA to examine decades of records identified almost 8,000 perpetrators and more than 12,000 victims; these numbers were reported this week by the Los Angeles Times.
According to several media reports, BSA kept records of the sexual abuse, but these were labeled as “confidential” and the records were sealed. It’s only been in the past few years the documents outlining the sexual abuse became public. The organization did say “every instance” of abuse was reported to the authorities and those accused who were “blacklisted” and banned from the Boy Scouts. However, the 234 men named in the allegations recently reported by the Los Angeles Times were not previously listed in BSA’s now-notorious secret database. This indicates the number of children suffering abuse while participating as a scout are much larger than has been disclosed – or even known – by the BSA.
Our hearts go out to the victims and their families for the abuse and subsequent years of suffering they’ve had to endure. No child should have to experience the pain and suffering they have been subjected to.
BSA was forced to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages to a victim who was assaulted in the 1980s by an assistant troop leader when he was about 12 years old. This lawsuit began the process of unveiling the now notorious database once the Oregon court-ordered full release of the files.
Now that the scandal is public, BSA is considering filing for bankruptcy, which would limit or halt any further lawsuits. If the bankruptcy is filed, this means victims would be “steered” towards bankruptcy courts rather than being able to file abuse lawsuits.
In light of that possibility, the states of New York and New Jersey both extended the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse to help protect victims so they can file at a later date. This also means additional victims now have the opportunity to come forward in these states since the window of time passed to allow a lawsuit has been widened. Similar legislation designed to extend the statute of limitations is also pending in California.
To date, BSA won’t disclose how many sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed or the amount paid out in settlements and judgments. What is known is insurers have denied some of the claims, indicating BSA could have prevented the abuse from occurring.
No child, or an adult who was abused as a child, should ever have to experience this kind of trauma. If you, or your child, have been impacted by sexual abuse, you have rights.
The compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine understand the horrifying experiences victims have endured and can help them pursue justice for the emotional trauma and physical damages they’ve suffered.