Almost 30 lawsuits have been filed against the Boy Scouts of America due to allegations of sexual misconduct among troop leaders, The Idaho Statesmen reported. The allegations come at a time when the organization’s numbers are already decreasing at a fast pace, with over 425,000 members leaving in 2018 alone.
In total, 29 men have come forward, suing both the Scouts, as well as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for covering up child molestation that took place in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Despite knowing the evil that was taking place, LDS leaders allowed it to continue, the lawsuits allege.
“In Idaho alone, at least seven Scout leaders were accused of molesting Scouts or other youth between 1962 and 1977. Between 1978 and 1983, at least three additional Idaho Scout leaders were accused of molesting Scouts or other youth,” the complaint reads, per The Idaho Statesman. “In addition to knowing about the decades of sexual abuse by Scout leaders in Scouts prior to or during Plaintiffs’ abuse, Defendant BSA became aware of all or most of the accusations regarding these specific Scout leaders by 1982.”
Attorneys representing the victims include Gilion Dumas and Ashley Vaughn, of Portland, and Andrew Chasan and Timothy Walton, of Boise.
Dumas has reported that 19 of the cases have been settled, three are awaiting trial, two have been dismissed and five others are currently pending.
The attorneys have reported that the Scouts of America not only knew of the sexual misconduct taking place but kept it on file. Despite keeping a record, the Scouts chose to withhold the vital information from victims’ parents, as well as the authorities.
LDS church officials are also believed to have withheld knowledge of sexual abuse. The Statesman reports that church officials “intentionally kept that secret from families and law enforcement agencies,” according to the attorneys.
These allegations arose last year after LDS pulled their support for the Scouts in May 2018. The organization phased out their 425,000 members by the end of 2018, leaving a large impact on the organization’s current and future membership.
The past year was filled with controversy for the Boy Scout organization as a whole, predominantly stemming from changes they made, including welcoming girls to join and providing condoms to minors at their World Jamboree.
According to NPR, the organization might file for bankruptcy in order to avoid the settlements stemming from the sexual abuse claims.
“Sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America has the organization considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The reason – to protect the Texas-based non-profit from financial settlements related to those abuse claims,” the report reads.
There is a timeline on the decision to file a lawsuit, Dumas, the victim’s lawyer, pointed out.
“From what we understand the only way these [four new] settlements will work is if the Boy Scouts do not file for bankruptcy for at least 90 days,” Dumas explained. “If they file within 90 days, these settlements may be at risk. We really do not know what will happen.”
Dumas also pointed out that on the other hand, the Boy Scouts declaring bankruptcy could actually bring more victims forward and would force the organization to resolve every single one.
“The threat of bankruptcy definitely changes the landscape for these plaintiffs, but also may give other people who were abused an opportunity to come forward,” Dumas noted. “Because it could mean that the Boy Scouts have to resolve every potential claim against them in one place. We see it as a mixed blessing.”
When news of the lawsuits first broke in 2017, the Scouts responded, apologizing to the victims for the damage that was done.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members. The BSA is outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families,” the statement reads.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints has yet to respond to the sexual abuse claims.
(H/T: The Idaho Statesmen)