Scouts from the USA © Jean-Pierre Pouteau (CBA)
Thousands of leaders of the Boy Scouts of America allegedly abused children and teens over decades. A network of lawyers now wants to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The "S case.D." reads like an endless tale of woe. It lasted for years and began when S.D., whose full name is to be protected, was 13 years old. Perhaps as young as twelve, the 57-year-old no longer knows for sure.
What S.D. on the other hand, by its own admission, cannot forget: How he was sexually abused hundreds of times by his then-Scout leader at Camp Acahela in Pennsylvania in the 1970s. Before the assaults, his tormentor had given him plenty of drugs and alcohol to make him compliant. Here's what the indictment filed a few days ago in Philadelphia says.
High media attention
Whether it's the "Washington Post," "New York Times" or CNN, the U.S. media is devoting a great deal of attention to the "Case S.D."Highest attention. And not just this. Nearly 800 former scouts are currently taking legal action with the help of a network of law firms.
The nationwide advocacy group aims to bring to light previously unknown, concealed abuse cases within the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). To do so, it is using TV ads to try to get abuse victims to come forward to the network with previously concealed information.
The wave of lawsuits is turning into a frontal assault on the largest youth organization in the U.S., with 2.7 million members. The latter had commissioned an internal audit from expert Janet Warren of the University of Virginia. According to the report, the organization identified exactly 7.819 perpetrators, the 12.Alleged to have abused 254 victims – between 1946 and 2016.
120 additional reports with specific allegations of abuse
The BSA are nothing less than "the largest pedophile ring in the world," says victim advocate Tim Kosnoff. He had sifted through thousands of files on allegations of abuse and was simply shocked. BSA had "known for decades that sex offenders had infiltrated the Boy Scouts".
Under prere from the threat of lawsuits, the Texas-based youth organization recently said it had forwarded 120 additional reports with specific allegations of abuse to law enforcement authorities. Files are now being sought at the local level to obtain information on "suspected additional perpetrators".
In its own investigations, the Scout organization is lagging behind the pace of revelations. As early as 2012, the Los Angeles Times had made public hundreds of names of defendants who were not on the BSA's "blacklist.". They were not reported to the authorities, nor did the parents of the alleged victims receive any information.
In addition to the loss of reputation, the expanding abuse scandal is a catastrophe that threatens the existence of the more than 100-year-old BSA. Organization faces bankruptcy in the face of mass tort suits. The looming insolvency comes at the same time as political efforts to raise statutes of limitations: Victims of abuse are to be given longer than before to seek legal redress. Almost 20 U.S. states want to pass corresponding laws.
The new wave of lawsuits also poses a problem for the Catholic Church in the USA. After Mormons and Methodists, Catholics make up the third-largest number of members of the Scout Association, at about ten percent. U.S. Boy Scouts' ties to U.S. bishops' conference have long tradition. With its "National Catholic Committee on Scouting," the church has maintained an organization since 1934 specifically to deepen and expand these contacts.
Meanwhile, if the BSA goes bankrupt, claims for damages would be difficult to enforce. Victim advocate Kosnoff doesn't challenge that. He said he wants to reveal the full extent of the unknown, hidden or concealed abuse in the U.S. Boy Scouts: The perpetrators, he says, are "the true hidden predators in our communities".