Friday, 30 April 2010

Former Scout Awarded $18.5 Million in Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

A jury in Oregon found for the plaintiff in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Boy Scouts of America. The jury awarded the plaintiff a verdict of $18.5 million.

The lawsuit related to abuse that the plaintiff alleged he had suffered more than 25 years ago at the hands of an assistant scoutmaster. At the time of the abuse, the plaintiff had been a 12-year-old boy. He was one among six boys who filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America, alleging sexual abuse.

According to the lawsuit, while the scout master Timothy Dykes was removed from his position as a scout leader, he was allowed to continue to serve the organization as a volunteer. Dykes continued to abuse the boy in this capacity too. In 1983, Dykes admitted to scout leaders that he had abused as many as 17 boys under his watch.

Sexual abuse lawyers in California have watched this lawsuit closely. Much of this was due to the fact that jurors at the trial were allowed a look at thousands of documents that had hitherto been kept sealed at the Boy Scout headquarters in Irving. The documents contained information about abuse cases involving scoutmasters, going back several decades.

Boy Scouts of America has insisted that it only kept the files confidential to protect scout leaders who were not fit to be scout leaders, but had not done anything illegal. The organization insists that it has enhanced its youth protection efforts to block predators. Critics have alleged that the organization has been aware of scoutmasters abusing boys, but simply engaged in transferring the scoutmasters to other lower positions at the organization, instead of bringing the law into the picture.

Supporters of the Boy Scouts organization believe it's futile to hold the iconic organization responsible for abuse cases that occurred more than two decades ago. The Catholic Church was held accountable by the people of California and several states across the country, for alleged abuse that occurred decades ago. Sexual abuse lawyers frankly see no reason why the Boy Scouts organization should be treated differently.

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