A lawsuit recently filed in Staten Island, New York by 28 former Boy Scouts alleges that the Boy Scouts’ Staten Island Council and the Archdiocese of New York recruited boys to join the organization, where they were sexually abused. According to a report by the Staten Island Advance, the lawsuit alleges the abuse against the young Boy Scouts “spanned more than half a century,” with one plaintiff alleging they were molested in 1949 and another alleging misconduct in 1995.
The lawsuit alleges that the child sex abuse took place in New York, and names the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America as a defendant alongside the Staten Island Council and the Archdiocese of New York. The Staten Island Advance reports that eight of the 28 plaintiffs currently live in Staten Island, with the rest spread across the United States. The complaint, filed in the New York state supreme court, alleges that the plaintiffs were subjected to forms of sex abuse that included nonconsensual touching, fondling, groping, sexual contact, and sodomy. It states in part that the victims “were preyed upon because of their youth… While plaintiffs were in Scouts, defendants accommodated an environment that permitted harmful and offensive sexual conduct and contact with plaintiffs,” according to the Staten Island Advance.
The lawsuit was filed under the Child Victims Act, a 2019 law that allowed survivors of child sex abuse to file claims against their alleged abusers even if the alleged abuse happened outside the statute of limitations. When the Child Victims Act became law in 2019, it was intended to give survivors a one-year period to sue their alleged abusers; that window was extended until August of this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint against the Boy Scouts and the Archdiocese of New York reportedly goes on to state that the alleged abuse caused the victims to experience “severe and lifelong physical and mental injuries, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, emotional distress, substance abuse, and feelings of worthlessness, shamefulness, and embarrassment.” According to the Staten Island Advance, it is one of numerous lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act against “Roman Catholic schools and churches, the Boy Scouts, a Pentecostal church, a youth athletic institution and even one man’s parents.”
It goes on to accuse Boy Scouts leaders of earning the trust of children “by espousing the values of character development, physical fitness and citizenship,” allegedly causing the children’s parents to urge their children “to respect Scoutmasters’ authority” and to allow their children to spend time with leaders “other adults on overnight outings, camping trips and other events.” It also alleges that Boy Scouts leaders used their positions of authority, and the trust that they had earned, to pressure their victims into remaining silent about the sexual abuse they allegedly suffered.
More information about the lawsuit against the Staten Island Council of the Boy Scouts, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America is available via the Staten Island Advance.
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