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Sexual Abuse and the Boy Scouts

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented victims injured by the wrongful misconduct of others for more than 40 years. Although many of our cases involve physical injuries, we know that emotional scars can be just as devastating, and that sexual abuse by trusted adults can adversely affect children for the rest of their lives.  

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest and most trusted youth organizations in this country, has been plagued with numerous incidences of alleged sexual abuse by scoutmasters. According to the Los Angeles Times, a researcher hired by the BSA to analyze records of alleged sexual abuse identified 7,818 suspected abusers and 12, 254 victims between 1944 and 2016 in a report released this year. These numbers probably greatly underestimate the number of perpetrators and victims, because sexual abuse frequently goes unreported, most abusers are accused of harming more than one child, and some records have been destroyed.  

The BSA quietly settles most of the sexual abuse claims brought against it, but there have been some large verdicts in cases that went to trial. In 2010, for instance, a jury in Portland, Oregon, awarded $18.5 million in punitive damages to former scout Kerry Lewis against the BSA. Under Oregon law, 60% of the punitive damage award ($11.1 million) went to the state’s crime victim’s compensation fund. In an earlier phase of the trial, the jury awarded more than $1 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiff for pain and suffering, including drug abuse and trouble forming relationships.  During this case, the BSA was forced to turn over more than 1,000 of its so-called “perversion files” that were created between 1965 and 1985 to track suspected pedophiles and prevent them from volunteering again. In another case that went to trial, a jury in San Bernardino, California awarded $3.7 million in 1991 to 3 victims of sexual abuse.  

As of 2016, the BSA had 1.26 million Cub Scouts, 830,000 Boy Scouts, and 960, 000 adult volunteers. Despite the fact that scout leaders were often alone with young children, the BSA did not start running criminal background checks on volunteers until 2003. 

Potential defendants in a lawsuit against the BSA would be the national organization, the local council and the individual perpetrator(s).  In recent years, many states have enacted laws which extend the time for filing sexual abuse lawsuits. In some cases, these statutes provide limited windows of one or two years in which to bring claims that would otherwise be time-barred. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by sexual abuse as a scout, you should promptly contact legal counsel to see whether you might be entitled to compensation.  

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused as a scout, please call us at 304-347-5050 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll-free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us online. We allow a victim to achieve financial compensation without publicity or confronting lawyers.

Toll Free: +1 (800) 763-4500

Email: [email protected]

Sources

Corky Siemasko, Boy Scouts of America Have a ‘Pedophile Epidemic’ and are Hiding Hundreds in its Ranks, Lawyers Claim,  August 6, 2019 https://www.nbcnews.com/…/boy_scouts_America_have_pedophile_epidemic_arehiding… 

Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times May 15, 2019 Boy Scout sex abuse scandal’s stunning toll-Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/…/la-na-boy-scouts-child-sex-abuse-20190515-st

Aimee Green, The Oregonian/Oregon Live, April 24, 2010 Portland jury awards $18.5 million in punitive damages in Boy Scout sexual abuse case, https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2010/04/jury-awards-millions-in-punativ.html 

The Associated Press, April 24, 2010 Boy Scouts ordered to pay Oregon man Kerry Lewis $18.5 million in sex abuse case , https://www.daileynews.com/…/boy-scouts-ordered -pay-oregon-man-kerry-lewis-18

Christina Zhao Newsweek August 7, 2019 Boy Scouts of America are Covering Up a ‘Pedophile Epidemic,’ 350 Alleged Abusers Have Been Named in Lawsuit,  https://www.newsweek.com>…Pedophilia> Lawsuits> Abuse>Sexualabuse