Hundreds of men are hoping to sue the Boy Scouts of America over alleged sexual abuse. Many of those claims are coming out of Mormon communities because, until recently, the LDS church was a huge sponsor of the organization.
Earlier this year, attorney Tim Kosnoff and two other law firms helped set up a website called abusedinscouting.com. It encouraged current and former boy scouts to come forward and share their stories of sexual abuse within the organization. Kosnoff said over the course of six months, they received accounts from nearly 800 individuals and have signed most of them on as clients.
“They represent men who were abused in Scout troops in 48 out of the 50 states,” he said. “They range in age from 14 to 88 years old and they reveal that this has been a continuous problem within the Boy Scouts over the last 50 years.”
The first of these cases was filed this week. Kosnoff said what’s significant about it is that it reveals the identities of several hundred accused offenders that hadn’t been previously named in the Boy Scouts’ own internal files.
He said many of the claims are coming out of Mormon communities because of how many scout troops had – until recently—been sponsored by the LDS church.
He also said they are up against a looming but uncertain deadline to file as many of these cases as they can before the Boy Scouts of America files bankruptcy—a possibility the organization announced late last year.
The Boy Scouts of America responded in a statement saying, “We sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in our programs. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, and we encourage them to come forward.”
The statement also said the organization has “multi-layered safeguarding policies,” like mandatory training for volunteers, background checks, mandatory reporting to law enforcement, and a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline for counseling and support in reporting inappropriate behavior.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.