Several lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America’s Montana Council have been recently filed to meet the May 6th deadline to file. The cases assert a decades-long pattern of abuse among Scout leaders and young boys, and numerous allegations that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) knew about the predatory behavior of its volunteers.
The Cascade County District Court has received dozens of lawsuits on behalf of numerous victims from Hamilton, Forsyth, Helena, and Great Falls. The allegations go back 65 years to 1955. One of the oldest plaintiffs is 79 years old.
Statute of Limitations Extension
Montana passed a new law in 2019 that ends the statute of limitations for child abuse cases. This extends the time people could sue entities that failed to report child abuse cases that they should have known about. The changes to Montana’s child abuse laws also allow one year for victims to file a lawsuit, even after the statute of limitations has expired.
New York, New Jersey, and California have also extended their Statutes of Limitations so that victims can still file a case, regardless of how long ago the suspected abuse took place.
BSA Settlements and Bankruptcy
In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. However, the Montana Council and more than 270 other local chapters have not filed for bankruptcy. Two cases against the Montana Council were settled in 2017 and 2019. Both suits were filed by six female plaintiffs who were abused by Scout leader William H. Leininger Jr. at the Kalispell Explorer post between 1974 and 1975.
Top-secret “perversion files” containing internal concerns about behavior between volunteers and scouts have been kept since the organization’s inception. Other court cases that have released the files found that over 7,800 perpetrators had molested 12,000 boys.
According to court documents, two of the pending cases contain accusations against Roger S. Maddox. Maddox was a Montana scout leader who worked previously as an assistant scoutmaster between 1970 and 1984. In 1987, the BSA put together a file on Maddox after he was charged with a 1986 felony assault against a 14-year-old boy. Court documents show that Maddox was accused of abusing two boys between 1964-1970. Lawyers claim that the Montana Council made no effort to identify earlier victims or to conduct an investigation after they were aware of Maddox’s arrest.
While the names of the accused offenders didn’t appear in the Boy Scouts of America’s “perversion files,” attorneys believe that most of the records were destroyed by the agency and that a file was never created in other situations.
Boy Scouts Abuse Victims Come Forward
Hundreds of abuse victims have come forward in recent years, which has spurred numerous lawsuits against the Montana Chapter. Information from 428 former and current Boy Scouts has provided attorneys with detailed information of alleged abuse, molestation, and rape, which gives credibility to the belief that the BSA’s pedophile problem rivals the abuse allegations against the Catholic Church. One victim’s attorney said that the Boy Scouts of America had been kicking out one molester every 48 hours from the organization for the last 100 years. If this is indeed true, it would be a clear indication of how many abuse cases were left unchecked, which will impact countless victims for the rest of their lives.
According to data from the years 1944 to 2016, it is suspected that within the Boy Scouts of America, over 7,800 alleged pedophiles assaulted 12,254 boys. These numbers are beyond staggering. Experts who have examined the situation don’t doubt that the numbers regarding the actual abuse that took place over the last 72 years are grossly underestimated. The numbers were obtained by examining the “perversion files”, which were commonly known within the BSA. What the numbers don’t show are victims who were either intimidated or shamed into not reporting their abuse claims. Since most Scoutmasters hold influential positions in their communities, they hold immense power over their victims and their families, which is probably why many incidents were never reported.
The role the local Boy Scout councils play in the BSA’s chapter 11 bankruptcy, along with the abuse allegations that spawned it, is a turning point in a flurry of new cases filed by men who claim they were abused when they were scouts.
On Tuesday, May 8th, the latest case was filed in Montana by 10 men who were abused by scout leaders when they were children. These cases come almost four months after the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It is the organization’s hope that by filing for bankruptcy, they will be able to limit responsibility in the abuse lawsuits by carving assets off of over 260 local boy scout councils.
Under the Boy Scouts of America’s projected restructuring plan, the “protected parties” would be the local councils. They would not be held responsible for any abuse claims made against the BSA. This division is currently being fought against by victims’ attorneys. They cite that most of the Scouts’ holdings lie outside of the organization’s assets. Additionally, the victims’ attorneys are concerned about the BSA possibly attempting to shield these assets. They are also having trouble securing financial documents.
The only way attorneys can keep the pressure on local councils is to file separate legal suits. Unfortunately, all civil suits against local councils have been halted until May 18th through an injunction. Attorneys believe that this blackout period will likely be extended. Nevertheless, lookback windows intended to allow abuse cases that would be barred otherwise by statutes of limitations are closing in many states.
Survivors of abuse who don’t file claims before the lookback window closes will not only miss out on settlement payments through the bankruptcy litigations but if the organization re-emerges, they will not be able to sue them either.
Are More Lawsuits Forthcoming?
As windows to file begin to close, states all over the United States could potentially see hundreds of additional lawsuits. All of the most recent cases allege that the Montana Council intentionally inflicted emotional distress, participated in negligent hiring, training, retention, and supervision practices, inflicted negligent emotional distress, constructive and institutional fraud, and deliberate malice. These grievances require a jury trial in order to seek compensation for punitive, specific, and general damages in an unspecified amount.
Connect With Boy Scouts Abuse Plaintiffs
Is your law firm looking to represent more abuse clients and help them find justice? Broughton Partners provides qualified retainers for Boy Scouts abuse lawsuits to law firms nationwide. Each retainer will be delivered to your law firm with the necessary case documents to start working on the case immediately.
Call (800) 949-8904 to learn more or fill out an online contact form for a free consultation.
- Traci Rosenbaum. Lawsuit: Abuse by Boy Scouts of America’s Montana Council leaders date back to 1955, Great Falls Tribune, https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2020/04/30/montana-boy-scouts-of-america-sexual-abuse/3059949001/. Accessed May 8, 2020.