The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) had long been known as an iconic organization whose name had been associated with good deeds for over a century. However, recent events have sullied the reputation of the Scouts. Now, it has emerged that the Boy Scouts have long known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct amongst scout leaders and volunteers.
Instead of taking action to stop the victims of child abuse and turn the wrongdoers into the authorities, the Scouts merely documented the problem and did little to nothing about it.
In recent years, Boy Scouts of America are being held accountable for their decades of inaction. Today, men who were victimized as young boys have been filing sexual abuse lawsuits against the BSA, and the organization has lost several cases that have gone to jury trials.
The sexual abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to getting full and fair compensation for each victim via civil lawsuits against the BSA. We invite you to discuss your situation with our law office. We offer free consultations and have years of experience prosecuting sensitive cases.
Mass of Cases Leads to the Bankruptcy Filing
Now, as a result of the crushing liability that it faces as former scouts file claims, the organization filed for bankruptcy protection. This does not mean that the Scouting organization will be no longer. Instead, it means that the BSA is seeking to protect themselves from the deluge of cases that it has been hit with and will continue to face in the future.
This also does not prevent former boy scouts from receiving compensation for the molestation that they have suffered as young boys.
Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Can Help Abuse Survivors
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help you if you are the victim at the hands of anyone associated with the Boy Scouts of America. It does not matter whether the behavior happened last year ago or even decades in the past. Recent changes to the law have made it easier for victims of abuse to come forward and have their day in court.
Do not let the wrong that you have endured go unaddressed if you have the ability to come forward. While the decision to file a legal claim is yours and it may involve some painful memories, the laws have now been changed to help you preserve your legal rights.
What Did the Organization Do Wrong?
Like many other defendants in sex assault claims, the scout leaders are alleged to have known about sexual abuse in their ranks via paid employees and volunteers and done nothing about it. The track record of sexual misconduct dates back decades, yet the BSA never took any action to root it out of their midst. There is ample evidence suggesting that criminal background checks were never ordered or performed.
The most damning fact BSA’s organization’s history is that they had confidential files that detailed this conduct. From 1965 to 1984, the Scouts had documented over 1,200 cases of misconduct by scout leaders and adult volunteers and kept files on them. Just to show what the organization knew, they even had a name for these files.
They were called the “P Files.” This was short for “perversion files.” In other words, the Scouting organization knew enough about what was going on to recognize the gravity of the situation but that did not spur them to take any action.
These files were kept locked away at Scouts headquarters in Dallas, TX, and only a handful of people ever knew they existed. However, their existence became known to the entire world during the course of several sexual abuse lawsuits against the scouts.
Failing to Protect Innocent Children
The BSA did nothing to address the problems and even let suspected perpetrators return to Scout duty. Employing pedophiles alone and giving them the cover of an organization alone is enough to make a defendant liable for the actions of their representatives. What makes the Scout culpability even worse is the fact that they knew what was going on and did nothing but put people in a position where they could molest young children.
What was even more shocking is the fact that there were 50 known instances when the Scouts put someone back in a position where they were in contact with children when they were known pedophiles. In other words, the group lifted a ban against these people so that they could commit even more harm to children.
The Legal Landscape Is Changing For Victims of Abuse
Many victims had thought that their opportunity to bring suit against the BSA had lapsed years ago. In most cases, it actually did as the statute of limitations had passed. However, many states have now changed their laws to lengthen the time limits on a civil lawsuit in a way that would revive the right of those abused as a young boy to sue today.
The irony is that the BSA was front and center in opposing some of the laws that lengthened victims’ time in which to sue. For example, in 2016, the Scout leaders and the Catholic Church, two of the groups that stand to lose the most, helped defeat a law designed to help victims in New York which was later passed.
Examples of Changes to Statute of Limitation Law that Give You a Right to Sue
Here are some states that have changed their laws to allow people abused by a Boy Scout official decades ago to now filing legal claims:
- Texas has expanded the statute of limitations in a sexual abuse lawsuit until 30 years after the victim turns 18.
- Victims in California may now sue until the age of 40 or up until five years after the discovery of the situation.
- North Carolina recently passed a law that raised the age victims have to file a new lawsuit from 21 to 28.
Other states have passed temporary waivers of their statutes of limitations for victims of sexual abuse in order to give anyone a right to sue no matter how long ago the incident occurred.
Frequently Asked Q&As Regarding BSA Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about sexual abuse in the BSA:
Q. How Widespread Was the Pattern of Abuse at the Boy Scouts?
A – BSA itself knows of over 12,000 reports of misconduct by boy scout leaders, but the problem is likely much worse than that.
People have long suspected that there was a pattern of sexual misconduct associated with the Boy Scouts. While many children have positive experiences with the Scouts growing up, there have also been numerous horrific stories circulating about sexual predators taking advantage of young boys.
Over the past several years, as civil lawsuits and reporting have begun to pile up, the public is now getting an idea of the scope of the problem with BSA over the years, and it is much bigger than anyone ever thought.
The Boy Scouts’ own hired expert testified that she was aware of over 12,500 reports of child abuse that involved over 7,800 alleged perpetrators. This abuse occurred between 1944 to 2016. Note that this is just the reported instances of alleged child abuse by adult leaders. The number of cases that went unreported could be many times higher as perpetrators will usually have more than one victim.
In 1972, there were six million members of the Boy Scouts at its peak. It is likely that there will be countless additional reports of misconduct in the coming days, and what we know is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Q. What Financial Assets do the BSA Have?
A – Even after paying money to previous plaintiffs who won lawsuits, the BSA still has assets to settle current and new sexual abuse cases.
While you may think that the Boy Scouts are nothing more than a conglomeration of local chapters and groups, the truth is that they are an asset-rich organization. In fact, the Boy Scouts have roughly $1 billion in total assets. Of course, the Scouts’ legal liability may far exceed the number of assets that they have.
You may be surprised to know that the Boy Scouts have almost $700 million in stock and bonds on their most recent financial statement. The BSA also owns the property, including a sprawling campground in New Mexico that alone is worth over $60 million.
This is just the property that is owned by the national organization. There are local Scout councils that each have the property of their own. The national group is fighting to try to shield these local councils, but there is at least a chance that they may have to pay settlements with their assets too. Thus, the amount of available property and cash to pay molested men may be much more than $1 billion.
Q. I heard that the Organization Has Filed for Bankruptcy Protection. Will that Affect my Legal Claim?
A – It will not impact the merits of your claim, but it can affect the manner and amount of your recovery.
When an organization goes into bankruptcy, there is something called the “automatic stay” that goes into place. This places a freeze on new claims and lawsuits against the debtor outside of the bankruptcy process.
For you as a claimant, it means that you will still be able to file a case against the BSA. However, it does mean that there will be some changes in the way that your suit is filed.
You may be relieved to know that the Boy Scouts will not be able to escape liability for the blind eye that they turned to abuse by their personnel. One of the conditions of the bankruptcy is that the Scouts set aside a fund to pay victims for the sexual abuse that they endured.
The settlements will now need to go through the court and the bankruptcy trustee. They will have the final say about the settlement of claims and how much the victims get because they are the ones who approve payment of claims during this time.
The end result is that there will be money to pay victims, but people who file suits may not be able to receive millions of dollars for each case given the limited amount of assets that the Scouts have.
Q. My Abuse Happened Decades Ago. How do I Prove My Case?
A- You do not have to conclusively prove your allegations the same as a prosecutor would in a case against the perpetrator.
You do not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were abused. That is the standard of proof in a criminal case.
In a civil case, you will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you were sexually abused. This means that you will need to show that it is more likely than not that you were the victim of the BSA’s sexual misconduct.
This will still be difficult because some of the actions that may be at issue in a trial may have happened many years ago. The person who committed the abuse may even no longer be alive. Finding witnesses and corroborating evidence may even be challenging.
The good news is that, given these challenges, thousands of men have already received sex lawsuit settlements. The testimony of expert witnesses along with any circumstantial evidence that you have can help prove your case. In other words, just because time has passed does not make it impossible for you to receive settlement money.
Sample Legal Actions Against BSA
Here are some descriptions of cases that have been filed against the Boy Scouts and jury awards to victims that have been made:
$20 Million Jury Verdict in Oregon
The landmark suit which helped focus attention on the Boy Scouts was brought by a man in Oregon. The lawsuit claimed that the man was sexually abused as a child in the Scouts. This was the case in which the misdeeds of the BSA began to come to light.
In this case, the sexual abuse lawyers were able to get their hands on a treasure trove of internal documentation in the discovery process, and what they found shocked the jury. There were over 14,500 pages of internal Boy Scouts’ documents that were turned over and they revealed a disturbing picture of the group’s actions and inactions during the decades when thousands of children were abused.
The jury awarded the plaintiff the largest verdict ever against the Boy Scouts which included $18.5 million of punitive damages for the organization’s shocking misconduct. Even worse for the BSA was the public release of the files from the lawsuit which became known as the “case that brought the Boy Scouts to their knees.”
Confidential Settlement in 2015
Lest anyone think that the pattern of molestation was confined to the 20th century, a plaintiff filed a lawsuit in California for an undisclosed amount of money. The alleged abuse occurred in 2007 when the plaintiff was 13-years old.
What is important to know about this case is the reason why the Boy Scouts settled this case instead of fighting it in court. Perhaps the BSA learned their lesson from the previous Oregon trial in deciding to settle instead of risking the release of damaging information.
Here, the victim’s attorneys were able to get their hands on another large amount of documents that spanned the years 1991 to 2007. They were reported to have obtained over 100,000 pages of documents that contained even more damaging revelations than the Oregon case.
The Boy Scouts settled before its witnesses were able to be cross-examined. The word was that the plaintiff’s attorneys were preparing to use some of the more egregious files against the BSA defendants. Rather than see more damaging documents released, the Scouts elected to settle the case to keep these revelations private.
$12 Million Jury Award in Connecticut
Not only are the Boy Scouts liable when an adult sexually abuses a child, but they may also be found legally responsible when an older Scout molests a child. This is what happened in this trial that the Boy Scouts defended in front of a jury. Like the other jury in Oregon, this jury also took serious issue with the fact that the Boy Scouts kept files on sexual misconduct and did absolutely nothing about it.
In the case, the plaintiff’s attorney introduced evidence that showed the level of awareness that the Boy Scouts organization as a whole had of the fact the older Scouts were sexually abusing younger Scouts. This verdict was overturned by the State Supreme Court because of a jury instruction, but it was sent back to the lower court for retrial.
2020 Boy Scouts Lawsuit Filed in Washington D.C.
Eight adults sued the Scouts in Washington, D.C. seeking to establish the Nation’s Capital as a venue for a lawsuit against the organization. These claimants all live in states where the laws bar their legal actions because the statutes of limitations have passed. This claim takes a novel approach in trying to establish Washington as the jurisdiction for the court case because the Boy Scouts have a Congressional charter. The fact that BSA is a national organization is the reason why the plaintiffs’ attorneys think that they have filed suit in the right court.
How Can A Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Attorney Help Me?
The sexual abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can work with you with the understanding that a sex abuse lawsuit is a delicate matter and likely involves difficult and traumatic memories. At the same time, we will fight for you as you seek to receive the financial compensation that you deserve for what you have endured.
We have helped many abuse survivors over the years recover financial settlements and counseling in various significant personal injury cases. We are responsive sexual abuse lawyers who are sensitive to your particular concerns, and we recognize that you will have issues to work through as you relive what was likely the worst moments of your life.
Our services come on a contingency basis. This means that you owe us nothing unless we are successful in helping you recover either through a financial settlement or a jury award.