In two separate lawsuits, almost 30 men have sued the Boy Scouts and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS, in civil court. The lawsuits allege each organization was aware that volunteers and Scout leaders had molested kids, but covered up the instances. In doing so, the heinous acts were allowed to continue.
So far, 19 cases have settled, two have been dismissed, five are pending, and three are scheduled for a trial as reported by Gilion Dumas, a Portland, Oregon lawyer who is representing the victims. Dumas stated that victims’ names, stipulations of settlements, and other details surrounding the cases are confidential. Dumas and Ashley Vaughn of Portland and Timothy Walton and Andrew Chasan of Boise, Idaho are the lawyers bringing the lawsuits. They insist that the Boy Scouts maintained files on Scout leaders charged with sexual misconduct. However, they reportedly failed to reveal the information to volunteers, parents, or the authorities. The lawyers also claim church officials knew a problem with child molesters existed in Idaho troops, but purposefully hid the information from families and the authorities.
The abuse allegedly occurred in Idaho in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The complaint reads, “In Idaho alone, at least seven Scout leaders were accused of molesting Scouts or other youth between 1962 and 1977. Between 1978 and 1983, at least three additional Idaho Scout leaders were accused of molesting Scouts or other youth.” It goes on to state, “In addition to knowing about the decades of sexual abuse by Scout leaders in Scouts prior to or during Plaintiffs’ abuse, Defendant BSA became aware of all or most of the accusations regarding these specific Scout leaders by 1982.” Many of the now adult men’s accused abusers, including Doug Bowen, James Schmidt, Larren Arnold, Lawrence Libey, and Dennis Empey, were subsequently convicted of lewd conduct. Some of these convictions related to Boy Scout cases while others did not.
According to Dumas, four victims settled their cases recently. However, their payments could end up frozen. In December of 2018, NPR reported that the Boy Scouts, a national non-profit organization, is pondering filing for bankruptcy so it can avoid the settlements resulting from sexual misconduct claims. NPR stated, “Sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America has the organization considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The reason – to protect the Texas-based non-profit from financial settlements related to those abuse claims.” Concerning the four recent settlements, Dumas noted, “From what we understand the only way these [four new] settlements will work is if the Boy Scouts do not file for bankruptcy for at least 90 days. If they file within 90 days, these settlements may be at risk. We really do not know what will happen.”
The attorney also revealed that the embattled organization’s decision to declare bankruptcy might actually cause more victims to come forward and force the Boy Scouts to resolve each individual case. He said, “The threat of bankruptcy definitely changes the landscape for these plaintiffs, but also may give other people who were abused an opportunity to come forward. Because it could mean that the Boy Scouts have to resolve every potential claim against them in one place. We see it as a mixed blessing.”
In 2017, when the news about the lawsuits first became known, the Boy Scouts issued a statement. In it, the group apologized for the damage incurred by victims. The statement read, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members. The BSA is outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families.” LDS hasn’t responded to the sexual abuse allegations yet. However, they did remove their support from the Boy Scouts in May of last year. By the end of 2018, LDS phased out their 425,000 members. The void left a huge impact on the Boy Scouts’ current and future membership.
The Boy Scouts’ recent past has definitely been marred with controversy. In 2017, evangelist Franklin Graham urged all churches to “Pull out of Boy Scouts completely” due to its pro-LGBT stance. Besides dealing with the lawsuits, the organization started welcoming girls in 2018. A report also surfaced that condoms would be readily available at the upcoming World Scout Jamboree this summer in West Virginia. With Christians and others fleeing the Boy Scouts, the future of the once revered organization remains uncertain.
~ 1776 Christian