Shortly after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) formed in the 1920s, the youth organization began to track cases of suspected sexual abuse and misconduct by its scoutmasters and other adult volunteers. The Boy Scouts officially called these documents “ineligible volunteer files.” However, they also came to be called the “perversion files.”
In 2012, an Oregon judge ordered the Boys Scouts to release the files from a 20-year period, 1965-1985. The files revealed a shockingly high number of alleged Boy Scouts sexual abuse cases – more than 1,200 – as well as numerous cases in which the alleged abuser was never reported to police. Several accused sexual predators even continued to serve as volunteers within the organization.
Today, many former scouts in New York and across the country who suffered sexual abuse as minors are coming forward. They are seeking to hold both their abusers and Boy Scouts of America accountable for the immense physical and emotional harm which they suffered. At Powers & Santola, LLP, our attorneys are standing up for these survivors and helping them to pursue justice they deserve.
Thanks to the recent enactment of the Child Victims Act in New York, many Boys Scouts of America sexual abuse victims can now pursue claims that were previously time-barred. To discuss how this new law may affect you and to learn more about your legal rights and options, contact us today. We can provide a free and confidential consultation through our office in Albany, Rochester or Syracuse.
What Is the New York Child Victims Act?
For many reasons, men and women who were sexually abused as children may take many years – even decades – to disclose what happened to them. Those reasons include:
- Feelings of shame and embarrassment
- Denial of the traumatic experience
- Fear of retaliation and other consequences
- Direct intimidation by the abuser.
Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse must go through years of therapy and counseling before they can finally come forward. However, when they have done so in the past, they have faced many obstacles, including the statute of limitations on civil claims against their abusers and the organizations which harbored them.
The New York Child Victims Acts, which Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed on February 14, 2019, helps to remove those obstacles. Two important aspects of the law are:
- Victims now have until they turn age 55 in which to bring childhood sexual abuse lawsuits against responsible abusers and institutions.
- Victims whose claims would otherwise be time-barred now have a one-year “look-back” period to bring their civil claims. That one-year window opens August 14, 2019, and it closes August 13, 2020.
The attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, are now reviewing the claims of child sexual abuse victims who have been given new hope by this law, including the claims of former Boy Scouts of America members who were sexually abused by scoutmasters and other adult volunteers.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, we realize how much courage it takes to come forward and say, “I want justice.” Our attorneys are here to take the journey towards justice with you. We want you to be confident that we will handle your case with the skill, experience and compassion you deserve.
What Are the ‘Perversion Files?’
Boy Scouts of America officials maintain that they tracked cases of suspected sexual abuse in the so-called “perversion files” in order to protect the youth organization’s young members and to remove predators from their ranks. However, the release of these files shows how that system failed many times. Some believe the files may have been used more to protect the Boy Scouts brand rather than to protect the children.
In 2012, an Oregon judge presiding over a sexual abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts ordered the release of more than 1,200 “perversion files” from 1965-1985. The release of those files helped many men who were sexually abused as Boy Scouts to realize that they were not alone. It also revealed the organization’s pattern of woefully inadequate responses to suspected child abuse cases. Many survivors have accused Boys Scouts of America of engaging in a cover-up of the abuse.
More recently, The Los Angeles Times reviewed more than 1,200 files from 1970 to 1991. The review found more than 125 cases from across the nation in which “men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior.” In many cases, BSA officials not only failed to report the abuse to law enforcement, but they even failed to notify parents of the alleged victims.
As the newspaper notes, Boy Scouts has taken several steps to address the issue of sexual abuse. For instance, in 2008, the organization mandated criminal background checks of all volunteers. Also, since 2010, Boy Scouts has required all organization members to report any suspected child abuse to law enforcement. Still, those steps have come too late for countless victims. Additionally, the organization still refuses to release the entirety of its “perversion files” – even though new court cases against the organization may soon force it to do so.
Sexual Abuse Can Occur in Many Other Youth Organizations
Boy Scouts of America is not the only youth organization that sexual predators may use to gain access to innocent victims. The reality is that sexual abuse can occur in any youth organization which allows adults to interact closely with children, including:
- Girls Scouts of the USA
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
- 4H Clubs
- Martial arts clubs
- Music and arts clubs
- After-school programs.
If an organization essentially enables the abuse by failing to timely report suspected cases to law enforcement or takes steps to silence victims, then that organization and can should be held fully responsible for it.
Our New York Boy Scouts of America Sexual Abuse Lawyers Are Here for You
If you or a loved one suffered sexual abuse as a member of the Boys Scouts of America, the attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, will help you to seek justice. As a victim, you may be entitled to compensation, including compensation for medical expenses and therapy costs related to the abuse. We stand ready to fight for you.
We have assembled a legal team to focus specifically on childhood sexual abuse cases. The team includes former Special Victims Unit law enforcement officers. They have handled hundreds of sexual abuse cases over the course of their careers. They have a deep understanding of victims, and they know how to effectively investigate these cases.
To learn more about how the New York Child Victims Act may affect your case and to discuss how we can help you, contact us today. You can speak with a member of our legal team in a free and completely confidential consultation.