September 13, 2011 — Four men filed suit today against the Boy Scouts of America, alleging they were sexually abused by their scoutmaster in the 1970s.
This lawsuit is only the latest in a string of complaints filed against the Boy Scouts of America since the organization was found liable last year for a pedophile case from the 1980s and asked to pay $20 million.
The four men from Oregon are suing the Boy Scouts of America because they believe the organization knew the scoutmaster was a pedophile, but knowingly appointed him to their troop anyway. The lawsuit will be filed in the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland. The Boy Scouts of America are being accused of negligence and fraud, in connection with the repeated sexual abuse of the boys, who were between the ages of 12 and 15 at the time.
In total, there have been 35 sexual abuse cases filed against the Boy Scouts of America in 11 states since 2007.
Last week, five women from Montana filed a case against the Boy Scouts because they were supposedly sexually abused by their coed troop Scout leader in the 1970s.
The four men filing suit today are all alleging that their 1970s scoutmaster, Steven Terry Hill, molested them. Furthermore, the boys believe that the Boy Scouts knew he had molested three other boys while serving as a scoutmaster in California, yet put him in charge of their Oregon troop.
Since the 1970s, Hill was convicted in 1991 on four counts of sodomy and furnishing drugs and alcohol to a 17-year-old boy. He served 20 years and was released from prison in 2011. He was also acquitted of another sex abuse charge in the late 1970s related to the Boy Scouts in Portland.
Last year marked the first victory for sexual abuse victims who served in the Boy Scouts. In a Portland trial, the Boy Scouts of America were found to be liable for a sexual abuse case from the 1980s. The organization, headquartered in Texas, was ordered to pay $20 million in damages.
The publicity of that case caused a “domino effect” of other victims coming forward and filing lawsuits. Similar to allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, the 2008 Portland Boy Scouts case prompted hundreds of former Scouts to contact lawyers, coming forward with their own stories.
With the number of claims continuing to rise, the allegations are damaging the reputation of the 100-year-old nonprofit Boy Scout organization, which prides itself on building good character, citizenship and personal fitness in 2.7 million children, mostly boys.
Meanwhile, Boy Scouts of America representatives are maintaining that scoutmasters accused of sexual abuse represent a tiny fraction of the 1.1 million adult volunteers nationwide. They have instituted stricter screening processes and criminal background checks within the past couple of years, they say.
Yet, they acknowledge that even one incident of sexual abuse is too many.
Unfortunately, recently-discovered documents suggest that the Boy Scouts of America were aware of at least 60 leaders or volunteers a year who were discovered molesting children, over a 20-year period.
In last year’s trial proceedings, documents known as the “perversion files” and the “ineligible volunteer files” were unearthed, dating back from 1965 to 1985. The documents are reportedly records the Boy Scouts of America kept on suspected or confirmed sexual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers. The files total about 20,000 pages.
The Boy Scouts of America are fighting in the Oregon Supreme Court to keep these documents away from the public.
In the meantime, many more men may decide to come forward. It may be difficult for men to tell their stories, despite sexual abuse in their childhood, because they may feel greater shame from their ordeals. But they are not alone.
As James Hopper of Harvard Medical School said:
“You have stories of abuse emerging form the Catholic Church and other institutions; now it’s the Boy Scout’s turn.”
Do I Have a Boy Scout Abuse Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting sex abuse and molestation cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been abused by a volunteer or Boy Scout troop leader, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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