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1 Sep, 2013

Lawsuit alleges Boy Scouts of America in denial over “pedophiles in its ranks”


SEATTLE, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Attorneys for sex-abuse victims on Thursday filed a civil lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, alleging that America’s largest youth-serving organization was negligent and failed to protect youth in its care, resulting in the sexual assaults of 12 boys from Washington state. Most of the alleged incidents took place at camps operated by the Boy Scouts.

The case, filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle, represents the largest number of abusers in a single case filed against the Boy Scouts of America, attorneys say. The case also is the largest lawsuit of its kind to be filed in Washington state against the Boy Scouts. Notably, this lawsuit specifically names as defendants the Boy Scouts’ local chartered organizations, as well as churches, schools and adult volunteers, for failing to protect scouts in their care.

“Think scouting is a safe place for your boy? Think again,” said Tim Kosnoff, victims’ attorney. “The Boy Scouts of America pays lip service to making necessary reforms. It remains in deep denial about the scope and severity of pedophiles in its ranks, and that places children at risk.”

Kosnoff and his law partner, Dan Fasy, now represent more than 100 boys and men nationwide, who are suing the Boy Scouts for injuries stemming from sexual abuse.

“The details are tragic,” Fasy said. “This is a failure on a grand scheme that went on for too long and has affected many, many lives negatively.”

Attorneys say that despite decades of keeping internal files on accused pedophiles, the Scouts routinely failed to report abuse to police or to victims’ parents. That practice allowed sexual predators to remain at large, putting other minors at risk.

“I was scared, I was embarrassed,” said S.O., a former scout member who was sexually abused as a teenager. “This guy was my scout master. Everybody liked him and trusted him. Then there was me – an inner city kid. Who would believe me if I say he did this to me?”

Of note in this lawsuit:

  • Only three of 13 accused pedophiles have been criminally prosecuted.
  • Sexual predators “groomed” vulnerable scouts, posed as trusted advisers, took boys alone on outings outside official functions, to movies and parks and, in some instances, gave them alcohol, before assaulting them, court papers say. Abuse included molestation, forced oral sex and anal rape.
  • Ten of 12 victims were abused on campouts. Most of the abuse took place at Boy Scout-operated camps in Western Washington, including Camp Brinkley, Camp Sevenich and Camp Omache in Snohomish, Wash. and Camp Parsons in Brinnon, Wash. in Jefferson County.
  • One alleged abuser allegedly molested an inner-city scout member in 1986 and another in 1989. By the early 1990s, he was removed from his paid scouting position following allegations of abusing other scouts, court papers say. Following his ouster, he continued to work with children as an educator.
  • Paid Boy Scout employees, not just volunteers, are also accused of pedophilia. One alleged abuser is a former scout business manager. He was accused of molesting three scouts from 1983-1985, internal files from the 1990s show.

The Boy Scouts have refused to take responsibility for injured youth and are actually fighting back hard, Kosnoff said.

In a recent appellate court decision in Washington state handed down in July (N.K. vs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints et al), the Boy Scouts argued that it had no oversight responsibility for local troops, but rather assigns the entire blame to parents, troop committees, and local Boy Scout-chartered organizations. Local chartered organizations are run by volunteers not trained in conducting background checks, attorneys say.

“The Boy Scout system empowers mom and dad scouting volunteers, those least qualified and least trained to screen out and monitor child molesters bent on entering scouting,” Kosnoff said. “The absurdity of this is that parents and volunteers were not and still are not equipped to protect kids because the Boy Scouts of America withheld from them essential information about its own extensive knowledge of the patterns of infiltration by pedophiles into scouting.”

Between 1971-2009, some 6,500 pedophiles were identified in internal Scout “perversion” files, Kosnoff said. The Boy Scouts destroyed an estimated 15,000 “perversion” files, Kosnoff said, which means that the total number of secret files created by the Boy Scouts remains unknown.

For years, Kosnoff Fasy has advocated for better training of volunteers and swift reporting of abuse claims to police, rather than self-styled investigations or no investigation by the Boy Scouts.

Tim Kosnoff is a former deputy prosecutor and longtime trial lawyer.  In the past 16 years, Kosnoff has represented more than 1,000 victims of childhood sex abuse. He has secured more than $250 million in settlements and judgments for sex-abuse victims in cases against the Boy Scouts of America, several Roman Catholic dioceses, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Salvation Army, the Jesuits and other religious orders. Kosnoff is frequently interviewed as a legal expert on TV.

Dan Fasy is a partner at Kosnoff Fasy and has represented hundreds of injured clients in cases resulting in millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. He has represented clients at both the trial and appellate court level. Fasy has served as a key negotiator in mediations involving large multiple-plaintiff cases.

Contact: Tim Kosnoff, child sex-abuse attorney: 425-830-8201; Dan Fasy, child sex-abuse attorney: 206-462-4338