New lawsuits filed last week against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) accuse the organization of hiding sex abuse for 100+ years. The petitions allege that the systemic abuse of boys by scoutmasters has occurred ever since the organization was founded in 1910.
The 21 new lawsuits filed in Manhattan Supreme Court specifically charge 14 adult scout leaders with sexually abusing boys in cases dating back to 1954.
The lawsuits allege that BSA abuse has occurred throughout the entire 110-year history of the Boy Scouts of America.
One of the suits states: “[M]any of these children have been subjected to horrific acts of sexual abuse by adults who gained access to them through scouting organizations. This widespread abuse of children in scouting programs has been a systemic crisis that goes back since these organizations first existed.”
One of the plaintiff’s lawyers said, “These cases show a widespread, systematic, decades long problem of kids getting molested in Scouting. (The) time is now for the truth to come out and survivors’ voices to be heard.”
Jesuit Priest among those charged
A Jesuit priest, Maurice Meyers, who was also a scout leader, is among those charged in the lawsuits. Mr. Meyers worked at the Ten Mile River scout camps in Narrowsburg, N.Y. The suit alleges that he began sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy at a scout camp in 1973, and continued the abuse for a year.
The petition in that case states that the culture of the scouting organization was one of obedience that created pressure on the young scout not to report the abuse.
The Boy Scouts had a duty to the child, his parents, “and other parents of young, innocent, vulnerable children at the scout camp to properly train and supervise its agents and volunteers.”
Court filings also say that Mr. Meyers, who died in 1980, was associated with Fordham University during the time of his alleged abuse. The man has also been charged with sexually abusing two other children.
Boy Scouts Statement, Bankruptcy
The Boy Scouts said in a statement: “We are heartbroken that any child was ever harmed during their time in Scouting.” The BSA says it has now developed “youth protection policies” with help from experts in child safety, law enforcement, and psychology.
The Boy Scouts’ national organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020 in the hopes of skirting some of the financial liability wrought by decades of abuse now coming to light. The BSA, however, says it plans to compensate victims and “continue carrying out its mission for years to come.”
To continue that stated mission, Boy Scouts administration leaders were reportedly considering a strategy that would compensate victims while protecting the considerable resources held by BSA’s local councils. The Wall Street Journal reports that the councils hold some $3.3 billion in assets. The BSA national organization, headquartered in Delaware, is thought to possess at least $1.4 billion in assets.
The Boy Scouts of America lawsuits filed in New York were prompted by the state’s Child Victims Act, which took effect August 2019. It created a one-year “look back” window for child sex abuse victims. Abuse survivors were previously unable to sue because of statutes of limitation issues.
In May 2020, New York lawmakers voted to extend the state’s Child Victims Act by another year.