Updated May 14, 2020
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for repeated instances of sexual abuse and assault spanning nearly a century – and recent actions to ensure their security have left survivors feeling frustrated and powerless.
Child sexual abuse is something no parent wants to imagine. Abuse in a space that’s supposed to be safe and formative for your child is especially difficult to contemplate. We entrust organizations such as the Boy Scouts to instill essential values and principles in our children – and when they take advantage of our trust, we are disappointed, angry, and seek immediate retribution.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse or misconduct by the Boy Scouts of America, please contact us immediately to confidentially discuss your situation. You may be entitled to significant compensation – but you may need to act quickly in order to circumvent the BSA’s efforts to escape responsibility for their despicable actions.
The Boy Scouts of America Has a Long History of Sexual Abuse in Children
Since its inception, more than 130 million Americans have participated in the Boy Scouts. Unfortunately, throughout nearly all of its existence, it has been a target for serial sexual abusers. A comprehensive investigation by the Washington Times in 1991 found more than 1,000 Boy Scouts who were abused by their leaders and other various troop members from 1971 – 1990. During this time period, they found more than 400 former Scout leaders were banned or arrested for sexual misconduct.
Subsequent investigations have found that these numbers are likely much, much higher than reported. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2012 found over 5,000 cases of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts, spanning from 1947 to January 2005.
The map above effectively shows the prevalence of cases throughout the country – indicating sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts was a systemic problem, rather than a localized issue. Additionally, it is important to note that these are merely 5,000 documented cases – the actual number is likely significantly higher than we know.
In fact, the most updated information seems to indicate a staggering number of total victims. In 2019, a researcher testified that, according to analysis of records from 1944 to 2016, the Boy Scouts had identified 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 survivors of sexual assault. However, there is currently no database available to the public, but we can see how widespread this issue is.
The Perversion Files Indicates the Boy Scouts Knew About This Problem
Much of this information was taken from the BSA’s database known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files –nicknamed the “Perversion Files.” This was a comprehensive, confidential database maintained by the Boy Scouts to keep track of:
- Any Scout leaders or adults who committed sexual abuse or assault on scouts
- Their specific instances of abuse
- Any repercussions as a result of this abuse
- Any legal action taken because of this abuse
This database contained instances of abuse spanning nearly a century – with the earliest known recordings in the database from the 1920s.
The Perversion Files have shown that the Boy Scouts has not only had a history of sexual abuse since its inception, but it has also displayed the fact that the Boy Scouts knew about these instances of abuse, and decided to handle them internally – at times, failing to report any incidents to the proper authorities. In fact, in many cases, the perpetrators were allowed to continue as leaders in various positions in the Scouts.
Additionally, it is important to note that these files were only released in 2012 due to a court order – and even then, the BSA only released records before 1985. The full scope of the Perversion Files is still currently unknown.
A Revised Statute of Limitations May Aid Survivors of Boy Scouts Abuse
Many survivors of child abuse by the Boy Scouts have, thus far, been unable to secure compensation because the statute of limitations on many of these cases has passed. Some of these instances of abuse may be decades old – and often, they are not reported by survivors until much, much later. In fact, according to CHILD USA, the average age of a survivor who reported past abuse is 52.
Fortunately, multiple states in the country have pushed to increase the statute of limitations in some form. This is typically done in two ways:
- Increasing the age threshold to file civil and/or criminal claims
- Opening a “lookback window” – a short window of time where all survivors of child abuse can file a civil claim, regardless of age or statute of limitations.
Since 2018, seven states have changed the statute of limitations so survivors have more time to file civil cases against their abusers:
||New Age Limit
||Old Age Limit
||55 (not retroactive; only applies to future cases of abuse)
||25 (against abusers)
21 (against institutions)
Additionally, eight states and the District of Columbia have instituted lookback windows – many with increased statutes of limitations shortly thereafter:
||Lookback window duration
||Age limits thereafter
||December 31, 2020
||30 (from 20)
||January 1, 2020
||January 1, 2023
||40 (from 26)
|District of Columbia
||40 (from 25)
||May 7, 2019
||May 7, 2020
||27 (from 24)
||December 1, 2019
||December 1, 2021
||55 (from 20)
||August 14, 2019
||January 14, 2021 (extended due to COVID-19)
||55 (from 23)
||January 1, 2020
||January 1, 2022
||28 (from 21)
Although Hawaii and Montana have just recently closed their lookback windows, they may be reopened if more cases are found. In fact, this is Hawaii’s second lookback window – a first one was opened in 2012.
It is also important to note that these lookback windows may be subject to change due to the coronavirus crisis. Due to courts which are closed until further notice, New York has recently extended their lookback window to January 2021 – and litigators are discussing extending it further to give survivors a fair chance at compensation.
Bankruptcy Filing May Pose a Problem for Those Seeking Justice
In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the onslaught of current and pending sexual abuse lawsuits. The Boy Scouts claim that it was done to reorganize their debts for the purposes of properly compensating survivors of child abuse. However, many opponents claim that this may actually make compensation more difficult for those seeking justice.
By filing for bankruptcy, the Boy Scouts are legally obligated to pay off any current or outstanding debts or loans before paying off survivors of child abuse – and according to bankruptcy filings, the money that they owe to debtors is significant. Some of their debts are surprising, including a $328 million debt owed to a nonprofit company, and $222 million in secured debt to banks. This will profoundly impact the amount they may have leftover for compensation.
Further, their reorganization plan highlights the fact that any local councils would be considered protected parties, claiming that local assets are independent of the national organization’s assets. Therefore, local councils are protected from the bankruptcy, and may not be held liable for any instances of sexual abuse claims filed against the organization. This fails to hold any responsible parties financially and legally accountable for their despicable actions and negligence that contributed to the abuse of children.
Additionally, by filing for bankruptcy, the Boy Scouts has announced the possibility of forming a Victims Compensation Trust to consolidate payments on any pending or settled abuse lawsuits. This trust will presumably be run like similar compensation funds organized to settle cases of clergy abuse in dioceses across the nation: a third-party committee would be charged with assessing claims and determining the value of compensation to be distributed for each claim. Many argue that this will lead to settlements for survivors of child abuse that are significantly lower than what they should be entitled to.
Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Boy Scouts
The current negligence lawsuit states that the Boy Scouts failed to educate and warn parents about the risk of sexual abuse in the program. Knowing the warning signs of child sexual abuse can help you become a parent who is in the know. It may enable you to detect abuse early and put an end to the trauma as soon as possible. Here are a few red flags for sexual abuse in Boy Scouts:
- Unexplained sleep problems and/or nightmares
- Sudden loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Distracted or distant behaviors
- Sudden mood swings, including aggression or fear
- New or unusual fear of certain people or places
- Drawing or writing about sex at an early age
- Sudden and unexplained appearance of toys or money
- Negative self-image or low self-confidence
- Adult-like sexual knowledge or behaviors
Abused children may also speak in clues instead of talking about the situation outright. Be alert for odd topics of conversation or other clues your child may drop, and take the opportunity to dig deeper into the topic. The appearance of one or two signs does not necessarily mean child sexual abuse. Many signs, however, can signal its presence. It often takes an attorney to investigate Boy Scout child sexual abuse. They can take an aggressive stand against perpetrators.
A Legal Professional is Required to Fight for Full and Fair Compensation
If you or a loved one is a survivor of child abuse by the Boy Scouts of America, it is highly recommended to consult an attorney immediately to help you seek compensation. With thousands of lawsuits already in the pipeline against BSA, it can be incredibly difficult to secure the compensation you deserve for your lasting damages. An attorney can help navigate the legal process so that your case does not fall between the cracks.
Additionally, the Boy Scouts of America has made seeking compensation especially difficult for new survivors who are currently coming forward. Although no specific times have yet been announced, the Boy Scouts has proposed a short window of 80 days for all survivors to file claims. This is an incredibly narrow window of time for the tens of thousands of survivors to submit claims – one that legal professionals will most certainly appeal.
Further, agreeing to participate in a victims compensation fund typically means you surrender your right to seek further compensation through a civil claim. If you happen to receive far less than what you deserve, you would then be legally unable to file an additional lawsuit against the organization for further damages. For example, although the Boy Scouts of America is claiming full liability for all claims, many have resorted to filing claims against local councils to ensure they are held accountable as well.
An attorney can help you navigate your options for compensation, assisting with any difficult decisions, and advising for the best path to the maximum possible compensation. Once decided, he or she can help you with timely, accurate filing, while asking for the full and fair compensation you deserve for your years and decades of suffering. Ultimately, an attorney gives you a legal advocate throughout proceedings that is devoted to acting in your best interests
How Can Estey & Bomberger Help?
Estey & Bomberger understands the pain and suffering many have gone through due to the despicable actions of the Boy Scouts of America. We understand that abuse can leave lasting, irreparable harm on the most vulnerable members of our society, and we want to help in any way we can. By aggressively pursuing the Boy Scouts of America, we hope to not only seek compensation for your damages, but also justice for those who are ultimately accountable for the profound harms to our children.
Our law firm is committed to taking on sexual abuse at an institutional level, to hold any negligent parties responsible – and to ensure that such instances of abuse are never tolerated. We represent survivors of sexual abuse to assist them in their needs and for the betterment of society on their behalf.
We also understand that this may be a sensitive topic for you and your family. Therefore, we ensure privacy at the highest level. Your initial consultation is 100% confidential, and we may be able to keep your identity private throughout the duration of the case. Although we are dedicated to seeking justice, we are ultimately committed to putting your safety and health first through this difficult.
The Boy Scouts of America Deserves to Be Held Liable for Decades of Child Abuse
We believe that the Boy Scouts organization as a whole must not only be held accountable for decades of reprehensible actions against our children – but also held liable for failing to take action to protect these children.
In 1988, the organization instituted a Youth Protection Program in order to combat instances of child abuse and sexual misconduct. However, it has widely been ineffective, as numerous incidents of child abuse have come to light even after the program was instituted. By failing to properly enforce these ideals, the Boy Scouts of America has consistently failed to protect our youth.
Additionally, the BSA claims that the “perversion files” have been an effective method to monitor and screen potential sex offenders. However, they have consistently failed to report any of these suspects to the proper authorities – opting instead to handle it internally. Shockingly, in many instances, these offenders have continued to work within the organization.
Further, of the over 2,000 currently pending lawsuits against the BSA, hundreds allegedly do not appear within the files. This implies that the Ineligible Volunteer Files are not only minimally effective in keeping track of potential offenders within the organization – it also indicates that the actual number of survivors may be significantly higher than the 12,000+ Scouts uncovered in the files.
By allowing serial abusers to continue working with children, the BSA has effectively vouched for their behavior and therefore deserves to be held fully liable for their grossly negligent actions.
We Want to Help You Seek Justice. Contact Us Today.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of abuse by the Boy Scouts of America, please contact us immediately to discuss your case. We are here to lend any support, help, and action necessary to pursue the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
Our lawyers will investigate your claim, file the correct paperwork in California, and pursue full justice for your child and family. We know that no amount of money can compensate you or your loved one for the physical and/or mental damage suffered, but it can be the first step toward a full recovery. It can shed light on the terrible travesty of child sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts and stop it from happening to someone else. Schedule a free, confidential case consultation, and see how we can help.