Boy Scouts Sexual Assault Lawyer

Boy Scouts Sexual Assault

Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest and most well-known youth organizations in the country. In fact, the Boy Scouts reportedly have over two million youth participants in their volunteer programs and millions more from years prior. Unfortunately, the Boys Scouts also have thousands of young boys who were sexually abused and molested by adult Scout leaders resulting in years of psychological and emotional trauma.

Decades of Lies and Unreported Abuse

Sexually assaulting a child is reprehensible, disgusting, and illegal. Learning that someone you know sexually assaulted a child and doing nothing about it or, even worse, covering it up, is equally shameful.

It turns out that the Boy Scouts of America has lied to the public and its members for decades. The organization covered up sexual abuse that spanned eight decades. The organization reportedly concealed hundreds of records detailing reports of sexual abuse and molestation by scout counselors, according to the Los Angeles Times. A portion of these concealed files were finally released to the public and the findings were astounding. A study of the released documents showed that the organization was having to remove reported child molesters at the rate of one molester every three days. This is why the number of sexual abuse victims may be in the thousands.

How Could Such an Atrocity Occur?

The Boy Scouts allows adult leaders to have unfettered access to young boys. There are camping trips and other activities where the only adult supervising a group of boys is a Scout leader. If that leader is a sexual predator, the damage to the young boys under his supervision can be incalculable. Many young scouts describe being “groomed” for sexual abuse and being told that the sexual contact was part of their training.

Habitual Offenders

In some cases, Scout leaders accused or convicted of molesting young boys in one area simply relocate to a new state and volunteer again. This is why inadequate screening of adult volunteers is often cited as a contributing factor to the high rate of sexual abuse within the organization.

Boy Scouts of America Breached Its Duty of Care

The abusers who took advantage of their Scout leadership position and traumatized young boys are not the only ones who can be held responsible in a civil lawsuit. The Boy Scouts of America should be held responsible as well. The organization is a legal entity with an affirmative duty of care to take all reasonable steps to keep their members safe. This duty included ensuring that young boys in the care of a Scout leader were not sexually abused. The shocking documents discussed above indicate that the Boy Scouts of America breached its duty of care and should be held liable for allowing their members to be victimized by sexual predators.

Compensation in a Boy Scout Sexual Assault Case

A question often asked by my clients is, "what type of compensation can I pursue from the defendant?" This is a perfectly reasonable question. The answer depends largely on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. Nevertheless, most Boy Scout sexual assault civil lawsuits seek compensatory damages for physical harm, mental trauma, and pain and suffering. Furthermore, a claimant can pursue punitive damages, which are considered "punishment damages." These types of damages have been successfully pursued on behalf of Boy Scout abuse victims.

Take Legal Action Today

Many victims who were abused during their time as scouts may have trepidations about filing a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. This is understandable since supposed loyalty is hailed as a core value of the organization. But you must understand that the organization was disloyal to you in allowing such egregious conduct to occur. There should have been thorough, extensive background checks on each and every Scout leader. There should have been transparent and public reporting of abuses when they were brought to the attention of the organization. None of this was done and it put the lives of thousands of young boys at risk.

In 2010, abused scouts stood up and shed a spotlight on the abhorrent practices allowed to go on within the Boy Scouts. They filed a lawsuit against the organization and a jury sided in their favor. The Boy Scouts of America was found liable and hit with the largest punitive damage award in a child abuse case in U.S. history, a reported $18.5 million.

In another civil lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts of America, a Connecticut jury awarded a former boy scout seven million dollars in compensatory damages for the sexual molestation and assault he suffered from a Boy Scout youth leader in the 1970s, according to the National Trial Lawyers. The trial judge added five million dollars in punitive damages, meaning the assault victim received a total verdict of $11.8 million.

Statute of Limitations in Boy Scout Sexual Assault Lawsuits

An issue often raised in these types of lawsuits is something called the "statute of limitations." This is a statutorily-defined period of time in which a harmed party (i.e. the plaintiff) can file a lawsuit in court against the alleged wrongdoer (i.e. the defendant).

Under California law, a civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault must be filed within eight years of the age of majority (i.e. prior to your 26th birthday). However, the California legislature enacted an extension of the statute of limitations based on the "discovery" of child sexual abuse or its effects. This was necessary for victims who may have blocked the abuse from their minds, only to have the abuse re-surface decades later. The extension allows for a lawsuit to be brought within three years of the date the plaintiff discovers that the injury was caused by sexual abuse after reaching the age of 18, or three years after the plaintiff should have discovered the injury. The California legislature also enacted a law allowing civil lawsuits to be brought against people who were aware of sexual abuse by their "employee, volunteer, representative, or agent" and failed to take "reasonable steps" to prevent it.  Upon his discovery of this person or entity, a plaintiff has one year to file a lawsuit against that individual, or individuals.

Speak to a Sacramento Boy Scout Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento sexual assault lawyer. If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. If calling outside of Sacramento, please call toll free (800) 404-5400.

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Photo Credit: Liam Dunaway - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=833973

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