Sexual Abuse of Children by the Boy Scouts of America
The Boys Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the largest youth organizations in the country. Since its founding in 1910, approximately 110 million Americans have participated in BSA programs. The stated mission of the BSA is to build character and develop responsible citizenship in its young members. As such, the BSA is a respected organization that is trusted and highly regarded by parents and children all over the country.
Decades of Claims of Sexual Assault in the BSA Surface
Contrary to its wholesome reputation, however, the BSA has been linked to claims of sexual abuse by its members for decades. Recently, hundreds of men across the United States have initiated lawsuits against the BSA for sexual abuse perpetrated by scout leaders. The lawsuits allege that Boy Scout officials failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from foreseeable sexual abuse. The BSA has now stated that it will enforce policies to prevent such abuse, including mandatory criminal background checks for all staff and rules prohibiting children from being alone with a single staff member. For victims of past sexual abuse, however, such policies were non-existent or poorly enforced during their membership with the organization. The BSA now faces liability for the sexual abuse that thousands of scouts suffered either as a result of lax supervision, ineffective policies, or inaction upon learning of abusive behavior.
Attention: New York and New Jersey Law Provides Additional Time for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Bring Action
Knowledge of Sexual Abuse by the Organization
In 2012, accusations against approximately 5,000 scout leaders and volunteers came to light after documents recounting sexual abuse were discovered. In 2019, shocking new details about the massive scope of the abuse emerged. According to reports, from 1944 to 2016, there were at least 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 victims (these numbers are likely low since many of the accused were linked to multiple victims). Much of this information was gleaned from “Ineligible Volunteer Files” maintained by the BSA. For victims of the abuse, these detailed, confidential files confirm that the organization was aware that sexual predators were volunteering as scout leaders. Indeed, in hundreds of cases, the BSA failed to report suspected abuse to parents and legal authorities. Scout leaders were often encouraged to resign quietly without disclosing their actions or were simply moved to a different location. In some cases, scout leaders continued to abuse scouts after the abuse was reported to the organization.
New Legislation to Address Sexual Assaults
Sexual misconduct in the BSA spans many decades and affects victims in 48 states. The accusers range in age from 14 to 97. While the passage of time once precluded older victims from seeking justice, new legislation passed in New Jersey and New York has extended the statute of limitations to permit lawsuits based on abuse that occurred many decades ago. As a result, many more lawsuits against the BSA are anticipated.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has handled all types of negligence cases for more than three decades. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by the Boy Scouts of America, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-988-8005.