The Boy Scouts of America has come under fire over the past several years for reports of sexual abuse occurring between younger Scout members and leaders in the organization. In an ongoing civil case in California, the organization attempted to persuade a judge to prevent its internal records from being used as evidence in trial.
The attempt to stop the release of the organization’s records failed, and this ruling served to advance one of a number of lawsuits filed in recent years against the Boy Scouts for allegedly failing to protect its members from suspected or known pedophiles. After the court’s ruling on the records, the Boy Scouts of America publically condemned any efforts made by individuals within the organization to cover up occurrences of sexual abuse.
California Case Highlights Need for Transparency
The California civil case was filed by the family of a young man who was reportedly abused by a Scout leader when he was 13 years of age. Court records state that the mother of the former Boy Scout, who is no longer a minor, contacted police in 2007 to report the abuse. The lawsuit asserts that a Scout official tried to prevent the victim’s mother from reporting the abuse to police.
Prosecutors representing the victim’s family argue that the Boy Scout files, detailing incidents across the country, may show that the organization used secrecy when handling abuse allegations and sought to hide information about alleged abusers from Scouts’ parents and guardians. A Boy Scouts of America spokesman said in a statement that the files are kept solely to identify and keep out individuals whose actions fail to meet the organization’s standards and to protect Scouts from further incidents.
While the Boy Scouts claim that the information in these files is not relevant to the case in question, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna Geck rejected the petition to keep the files from the trial. The prosecution argued that Boy Scout officials knew about the alleged abuse and other incidents, which can help support this victim’s claims.
In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of approximately 20,000 pages of Boy Scout files covering 1965 to 1985. In this case, a jury found the Boy Scouts liable in a pedophile case from the 1980s and ordered the organization to pay $20 million in damages.
If you have a sexual abuse complaint against the Boy Scouts of America, don’t wait to retain the representation of an experienced attorney. Contact our team at The Senators (Ret.)Firm, LLP to discuss your case and legal options in California.