Skip to main content

Sexual Abuse Within Boy Scouts of America | Civil Lawsuits

Nearly 8,000 Boy Scouts of America (BSA) leaders have been accused of sexual abuse that has affected more than 12,000 young lives since 1944, according to a review of sealed files which exposes a lack of action by the organization at large. These secret files, also known as the “perversion files,” reveal the extent to which the organization knew about the abuse and how they failed in their duty as mandated reporters. 

By California law, anyone working directly with children is legally required to report known or suspected child abuse to the local police department or child welfare agency within 36 hours. The LA Times identified at least 50 instances where known pedophiles listed within the perversion files were permitted to rejoin the Boy Scouts, despite being blacklisted.

If you are a former Boy Scouts member who was sexually abused, you may be wondering to what extent can the organization’s knowledge of the perpetrator’s past be proven as well as how you can obtain justice for the abuse you’ve suffered. The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn specialize in sexual abuse cases and they may be able to help you obtain the justice you deserve.

Can I Sue the Boy Scouts for Sexual Abuse?

If you are an adult survivor who was sexually abused as a child, the State of California generally allows you to bring civil lawsuits until you are 26 years of age, or within three years of discovering physical harm or a psychological injury caused by sexual abuse, whichever period is later. There are, however, many exceptions to this rule, and there are numerous benefits to filing a lawsuit sooner rather than later. If you believe your case may be approaching (or has passed) the statute of limitations, reach out immediately to an experienced attorney.

In civil lawsuits, camps and troops can be found directly liable for sexual abuse when it is determined they were negligent in screening, selecting, training, supervising, or retaining staff members and in taking reasonable measures to protect campers. In the case of the Boy Scouts, direct liability can be established if it is discovered that perpetrators were already listed in the perversion files at the time of the offense.

If you should choose to seek justice in criminal court, there are currently no limits or deadlines in California for pressing criminal charges against child molesters for child sexual abuse.

In some cases, California law protects your right to file as a “Jane or John Doe.” This can keep your identity private, while still allowing you to pursue justice. Contact us to discreetly discuss your case.

How Much Can I Recover in a Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Case?

sexual abuse boy scouts

Every case is unique, so it’s impossible to say exactly how much one will receive in a sexual abuse case. When speaking with a legal representative, your tangible losses (medical bills, counseling services, medication, and lost or reduced wages), along with the current level of impairment will be evaluated to help determine a reasonable amount to seek for pain and suffering. 

Here are a few recent lawsuits brought up against the Boy Scouts of America that resulted in compensation for the plaintiff(s): 

  • 2010: An Oregon jury ordered the Boy Scouts to pay $1.4 million in compensatory damages and $18.5 million in punitive damages for covering up the abuse of at least six scouts during the 1980s.
  • 2014: “John Doe” received $7 million in damages after a Troop 137 scout leader in New Fairfield, CT molested him and another scout on camping trips and outings. Later, $5 million in punitive damages were tacked on.
  • 2017: Three of six female plaintiffs received a confidential settlement after a Boy Scouts leader molested them during a co-ed explorer program between the ages of 11 and 14 in the 1970s. The perpetrator died in prison after being convicted of rape in criminal court.
  • 2018: The Boy Scouts and Church of Latter Day Saints paid an undisclosed sum to 19 men who were allegedly abused by scout leaders in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
  • 2019: A Washington State man received a confidential settlement after suffering abuse at age 14 by two scout leaders listed in the BSA’s perversion files.

A forensic accountant who testified at a trial in 2010 stated the Boy Scouts of America maintains over 65 million in assets explicitly for paying settlements and jury awards, and that their annual revenue tops $300 million.

In early 2019, the Boy Scouts of America announced they were considering a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to maintain normal operations during the onslaught of litigation—which may delay, but will unlikely derail, proceedings.

Resources to Help Parents in the Wake of Sexual Abuse

How you respond to child sex abuse is very important to the long-term impact it may have on your child. You should work to reassure your child that:

  • He is safe.
  • The abuse was not his fault.
  • You love him unconditionally.
  • You are here to help.

We recommend working with the Children’s Interview Center (CIC), which partners with Children and Family Services, County Mental Health, Law Enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, and other community agencies to offer comprehensive support for sexually abused children and their parents. The Child Abuse, Listening, Interviewing and Coordination Center (CALICO) is another resource to begin your coordinated investigation and work toward emotional healing.

resources for parents of child victims of sexual abuse

Help Stop the Cycle of Sexual Abuse Within Boy Scouts of America

If you suspect your child or a child you know is being sexually abused while in the care of the Boy Scouts of America organization, report it immediately. The California attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn are not intimidated by large organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America. Our passionate and experienced trial attorneys have represented both adult and child victims of sexual abuse across the nation.

The attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn are passionate and have represented both adult and child victims of sexual abuse across the nation. Recognized for our track record of multi-million-dollar settlements and awards, our passion lies in holding the worst type of predators accountable for their wrongs and helping survivors in the aftermath of abuse. Contact our team online for support and guidance to see you through this emotional time, or call +1 (415) 800-0590 to schedule an appointment with an advocate today. 

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its lawyers. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this website without seeking the appropriate legal advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction.