FAYETTEVILLE — A Fayetteville man has sued the Boy Scouts of America and the Quapaw Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in federal court alleging that the organization allowed a Scout leader, who was a known pedophile, to sexually abuse him when he was 9 or 10 years old.
The abuse occurred during Scouting-related meetings, events, outings and overnight excursions, according to the lawsuit. Much of the abuse occurred in and around Hot Springs about 1980, the suit states.
The man said he didn’t know or have reason to know until December 2018 that the Boy Scouts of America maintained a secret “perversion file,” which contained proof that the organization knew for certain the Scout leader who abused him was a pedophile before his being accepted as a Scout leader in Arkansas, the lawsuit claims. The file identified Scout leaders around the country who sexually abused boys.
The organization knew the Scout leader was dangerous but allowed him access to young boys, including the victim, according to the lawsuit. The suit was originally filed in Washington County Circuit Court in late November but was moved to federal court Tuesday at the request of the defendants.
The victim discovered the information during an online search to determine if his abuser was still alive, according to the lawsuit. He learned that three other victims of the Scout leader sued the Boy Scouts in Arkansas state court.
The lawsuit seeks damages to be determined for negligence, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, fraud and fraudulent concealment.
Specifically, the lawsuit states that the organization knew of the danger of sexual abuse of boys in the Boy Scouts but at no time before 1980 did they warn boys in their programs, or their parents, or implement reasonable and feasible prevention policies. They didn’t tell authorities, and intentionally and actively concealed the danger, according to the lawsuit.
The victim claims mental and physical pain and suffering, permanent emotional distress and mental anguish, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation, shame and psychological injuries, according to the lawsuit.
The victim has incurred and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment, therapy and counseling, and has incurred and will continue to incur loss of income and loss of earning capacity, according to the lawsuit.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday as a first step to creating a compensation fund for victims estimated to top $1 billion. The Boy Scouts has estimated 1,000 to 5,000 victims will seek compensation.
More than 12,000 boys reportedly were molested by 7,800 abusers since the 1920s, according to Boy Scout files revealed in court papers. Most of the new cases date to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, before the Boy Scouts adopted mandatory criminal background checks, abuse-prevention training for all staff members and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders must be present during all activities.
The organization filed bankruptcy in hopes of surviving a nationwide barrage of lawsuits, many of them made possible by recent changes in state laws to allow people to sue over long-ago sexual abuse.
Bankruptcy will enable the organization to put those cases on hold for now and continue operating.
Tuesday’s filing isn’t expected to affect the Quapaw Area Council, the largest regional council in Arkansas in membership and coverage area, according to the Boy Scouts of America. The council serves 39 counties in the central, north and eastern areas of the state.
Northwest Arkansas is part of the Westark Area Council.
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