A lawsuit containing new accounts from hundreds of former Boy Scouts who say they were sexually abused as scouts was filed Monday.
The suit, which was filed in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas, contains previously unreported cases, allegations that span eight decades and from almost every U.S. state, multiple reports indicate. This is part of an effort by attorneys to collect testimonies on behalf of a client who says his former scoutmaster manipulated him with alcohol and drugs before sexually abusing him.
"[L]awyers had identified at least 350 abusers who do not already appear in the Boy Scouts’ own disciplinary files, citing that as evidence that the scouting organization has not adequately vetted its volunteers and hidden the extent of its sexual abuse scandal," USA Today reported.
Attorneys now have approximately 800 total clients who allege they were abused while scouts, they noted at press conference Monday morning. The trio of law firms representing the victims formed the group called Abused in Scouting in pursuit of justice for the survivors from incidents in the 1940s through 2015 and because they believe the BSA is trying to file a for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If Chapter 11 is granted, it would remove any liability from their organization going forward, a June 1 note on their Facebook page explains.
“It is apparent that the Boy Scout Defendants continue to hide the true nature of their cover-up and the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organizations because the vast majority of new victims coming forward involve claims of abuse at the hands of pedophiles who are not yet identified by the Boy Scouts of America,” the lawsuit complaint says.
The sexual abuse described includes acts from inappropriate touching to sodomy, and the perpetrators were mostly comprised of men who had stature in their communities, including police officers, members of the military, teachers, a mayor, doctors, and a child psychologist.
The lawsuit also alleges negligence on the part of the Boy Scouts, arguing the exploitation would not have been possible but for the group's failure to protect the boys in addition to covering up incidences of the abuse.
In a statement to The Washington Post, the BSA said it has made 120 reports to authorities based of information from the group Abused in Scouting.
“We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," BSA said.
“We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.”
The sexual abuse scandal is but the latest in controversies to beset the storied scouting organization. In recent years, the BSA has come under fire surrounding the issue of gay scoutmasters, its refusal to accept atheists and nonreligious members, and its admission of girls into its ranks.