Eight lawsuits have been filed against local Boy Scouts of America councils in Arizona, alleging that scout leaders “sexually abused children dating back decades,” according to a report by the Associated Press. The lawsuits about decades-old allegations are possible thanks to a state law implemented last year that allows victims of child sexual abuse to sue their alleged abusers “and any churches, youth groups or other institutions that turned a blind eye to the abuse” until their 30th birthday.
An attorney representing claimants in the eight Arizona lawsuits told the Associated Press that he expected “to file four more in the state” by the end of 2020. He alleged that the Boy Scouts of America “systematically failed to keep sexual predators who were Scout leaders from preying on children.” Another attorney told the Associated Press that he expected his organization, Abuse In Scouting, would file as many as 300 lawsuits against Arizona by the end of the year.
As part of the Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy filing, the organization announced it would create a compensation fund for members abused in the past by leadership figures within the organization, and encouraged people to file claims against it. Nearly 90,000 claims were filed by the bankruptcy court’s November deadline, although lawsuits can still be filed against local councils in states that extended their statute of limitations for such cases, as in Arizona and New York.
New York’s look-back law went into effect in 2019 and was amended during the Covid-19 pandemic such that child sex abuse victims could file claims until August 14, 2021. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement about the legislation extending the window, “As New York continues to reopen and recover from a public health crisis, extending the look back window is the right thing to do and will help ensure that abusers and those who enabled them are held accountable.” In May, the Associated Press reported that nine lawsuits had been filed against three Boy Scouts councils in upstate New York.
One plaintiff who filed a lawsuit against an Arizona scout leader told the Associated Press that “the Scout leader used his position of trust and authority.” This person asserted in his lawsuit that the national organization “should have known” the leader would potentially abuse children because he had received child molestation charges in California before he allegedly abused the plaintiff. The man is now 49 years old and said to the Associated Press that he “spent more than 30 years trying to forget the abuse but that it left him always on guard and unable to form real bonds with people.”
Contact our attorneys to discuss your sexual abuse claim against the Boy Scouts of America.