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Wave of child sex abuse lawsuits threatens Boy Scouts

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    In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 photo, Greg Hunt holds a school photo of himself in St. Petersburg, Fla. Attorneys for victims from around the country of alleged childhood sex abuse by Boy Scout officials say they are preparing to sue the organization in New Jersey when the state’s new civil statute of limitations goes into effect. Hunt, 62, is planning to be on the suit in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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    In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 photo, Greg Hunt poses for a photo in St. Petersburg, Fla. Attorneys for victims from around the country of alleged childhood sex abuse by Boy Scout officials say they are preparing to sue the organization in New Jersey when the state’s new civil statute of limitations goes into effect. Hunt, 62, is planning to be on the suit in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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    In this Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019 photo, Greg Hunt poses for a photo in St. Petersburg, Fla. Attorneys for victims from around the country of alleged childhood sex abuse by Boy Scout officials say they are preparing to sue the organization in New Jersey when the state’s new civil statute of limitations goes into effect. Hunt, 62, is planning to be on the suit in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Published August 30. 2019 04:48AM

TRENTON, N.J. — The Boy Scouts of America is facing a threat from a growing wave of lawsuits over decades-old allegations of sexual abuse.

The Scouts have been sued in multiple states in recent months by purported abuse victims, including plaintiffs taking advantage of new state laws or court decisions that are now allowing suits previously barred because of the age of the allegations.

More litigation is on the way.

A lawyer representing 150 people who say they were abused as Boy Scouts is planning a suit in New Jersey when the state’s new civil statute of limitations law takes effect Dec. 1. New Jersey was home to the Boy Scouts’ headquarters for about 25 years until 1978.

Among the plaintiffs is Greg Hunt, 62, of St. Petersburg, Florida. He said he was abused during a camping trip in about 1969 in Pennsylvania, where his family lived at the time.

“It’d be nice to have the Boy Scouts account for their lack of ability to do the right thing,” he said. “It would be nice for me to have the Scouts say we did wrong by you and by these other boys and by your parents.”

The lawsuits raise the possibility that the Boy Scouts, one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S., might be staring at many millions of dollars in settlements or judgments that could lead it to declare bankruptcy, as several Roman Catholic dioceses have done amid litigation over abusive clergy.

The New Jersey suit will come on top of at least 24 that have been filed against the Scouts in New York since Aug. 14, when that state opened a one-year window in which victims of child sex abuse will be able to sue over encounters outside the usual statute of limitations.

Another lawsuit was filed against the Boy Scouts this month in Philadelphia by lawyers who say they have identified hundreds of victims, after a Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that the state’s statute of limitations could be set aside if a victim could prove that abuse was concealed by fraud.

Hundreds of other lawsuits filed in Guam and other states have already strained the Boy Scouts finances and have led the organization to consider bankruptcy, among other options.

“The Boy Scouts are going to have to come to grips with the issues of their past,” said Michael Pfau, Washington state-based attorney planning the New Jersey lawsuit.

In a statement responding to the pending New Jersey suit, the Boy Scouts said it apologizes to the victims and encourages them to report abuse to law enforcement.

“We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward,” the organization said. It added that policies have also been changed to include mandatory criminal background checks. It also added a rule that at least two adult leaders must be present with children at all times during activities.

New Jersey’s law, signed in May, allows child victims to sue up until they turn 55 or within seven years of their first realization that the abuse caused them harm. The current statute of limitations is age 20 or two years after first realizing the abuse caused harm. The bill also opens up a two-year window to victims who were previously barred by the statute of limitation. It also allows victims to seek damages from institutions.

That has opened the door to lawsuits by people like Charles Wright, 75, of Salt Lake City, who said he was sexually assaulted by a “Scout commissioner” in Southern California when he was about 11.

“I kept it all a secret for years. I became an alcoholic. I wanted to become a Baptist minister. Instead I became an alcoholic. I became addicted to numerous types of drugs,” he said. “It’s not easy with this thought rolling through your head about what happened to you when you were a kid.”

The Associated Press does not usually identify people who say they were sexually assaulted unless they give permission, as both Wright and Hunt have.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys say estimating how much the Boy Scouts have paid out to date and could be liable for is hard because the organization seeks confidentiality in settlements.

Paul Mones, the plaintiff’s lawyer in a 2010 case that resulted in a nearly $20 million judgment against the Boy Scouts, said the organization never expected to face such staggering financial liabilities because of statutes of limitations, which barred many purported victims from suing and which states are now beginning to change to help those who say they were abused.

“We are witnessing now, not just with the Boy Scouts, a major transformation (in) how victims of abuse and society view these institutions,” Mones said.

The Boy Scouts also said in a statement that they’re considering “all options available so we can live up to our social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting.”

If the suits in New Jersey and across the country lead the scouts to pursue bankruptcy, that would offer the organization a chance to come up with a plan to repay any plaintiffs, who would have to sign off on the plan, according to Pamela Foohey, a bankruptcy expert at the Maurer School of Law and Indiana University.

Comments
A few reminders about being proactive.
- Set family boundaries in your home on privacy, bathing, sleeping and that "no" means no will be respected.
- Please, use the correct names for genitals.
- Make sure your child knows what is "okay touch" and the difference between a secret and a surprise.
- Check your child's technology closely.
- Watch for any inappropriate behavior in other adults or older children and challenge that behavior immediately.
- Be aware that people you bring into your home, that includes in a dating situation, those people may want to get close to your children.
- Keep phone numbers handy for advice or information.
What a stupid comment about such a serious problem. I guess like your Idiot Fuhrer this is the best you can think. Maybe your have Jeffrey Epstein desires or did you already do the deed? What a waste of human life you are. You are a Schicklgruber, so go do your Sieg Heil and play with your mommy, sister or whatever it is sick people like you and Bone Spur in Chef do.
Here you are, TG. You are a hater with a low IQ. Your Hitler knowledge is a bit off. You go on to insult others as you display elementary spelling & grammar errors. For instance, who is, “Bone Spur in Chef...” You should cook up some knowledge. Your punk like behavior is funny to see. Keep it up. It is always funny when someone who is stupid, like you TG, insults the POTUS, with misspelled words and botched understanding of history. Who is the loser now? You are the one with the serious problem. You need to be confined.
I remember being a young boy, and being naïvely trusting of adults because they were adults. My young mind didn’t comprehend the fact that monsters really did exist. It’s a shame there isn’t a hell for these people to go to.
The Boy Scouts have always been a safe haven for conservoqueers. Deviant Republicans raising a new crop of pedophiles, women beaters and closet queens. No different than the Hitler Junge.
T2C, formerly diggerout who was expelled from here for vulgar posts, the Boy Scouts have always been, and still are, one of the greatest organizations ever. Unfortunately, a few individuals took advantage of the innocence of children and the Boy Scout’s group as well. Awful individuals tainted the stellar reputation of a great group. Books have been written about the benefits of Scouting. These young men really do help old ladies across the street. Scouts do things to make America better on the local and national level. Don’t be shallow and let a whole group of beneficial Scouts be sullied by just a few criminals. The individuals who did these awful deeds should be punished to the maximum extent of the law. Measures should be made to screen out those who do not belong before they have a chance to hurt the precious kids. There is, of course, to anyone with a sound mind, no connection with politics.
I agree Rambo, measures should be made, but the BSA has no back bone. They cower to the new god $$$$$
Fear of man will surely lay a snare, and the BSA caved to that fear. It was 2010, Philapdelphia... remember?
The Humanists were dismayed with Philadelphia Boy Scouts verdict allowing a council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to occupy a building owned by the city of Philadelphia rent-free, despite the city’s attempt to end the lease because of the BSA’s discriminatory policies. The BSA tried to turn things around but...
The American Humanist Association (AHA) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. The BSA asks its members to affirm a belief in God. The two collided, and the BSA continues to spiral downward. For the record, my last scoutmaster, before I abandoned that ship, was a pedophile (1970's). We gathered at a UCC Church, were there was no accountability. The Pastor there was the man who confirmed me... he ditched his family to run off with the church secretary. Humans can suck, even within the religious ones. I hate religion, though I embrace the relationship I now have with Jesus. I'm certainly flawed, but getting better by the day. Back in the 60's, we had a revolution... the sexual revolution. We now see it wasn't good. Remember the of crap from Rowan and Martin's Laugh In?
Happy Labor Day
Pedophilia and sexual liberation are not related. These suits date back well before the “sexual revolution”. The Scouts are a safer place today than in the 50’s
Joe,
Have you ever heard of NAMBLA? Have you've been following the Epstein stories? There's a huge portion of the US population who embrace the perversion of sex, they want that abomination to escalate and grow, so they groom our youth. You are living under a rock if you think your post is reality. Quite the opposite I'm afraid. Have you looked in to the history of PSU and their leadership?
Please don't "Take me on", that's getting old.
What you speak of has been around ages but we are now moving into an age where it isn’t accepted. Everything you cited is illegal and every example resulted in arrests. In the good ole days these examples would be swept under the rug.

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