Eight lawsuits filed this week allege Boy Scout leaders in Arizona had sexually assaulted children for decades, indicating that there will be a flood of lawsuits in the state for victims of child sexual abuse who are now 30 before the end of the year. be years old. age or older.
Arizona joined several other states last year to expand the rights of child sexual abuse victims to prosecute their alleged attackers and any churches, youth groups or other institutions that turn a blind eye to the abuse.
Lawmakers gave victims up to their 30th birthday to file a lawsuit, a decade longer than before, and opened a one-time window for victims who missed the cutoff, who now have until the end of 2020 to file charges. serve. Arizona has no deadline for criminal charges in child sexual abuse cases.
Michael Pfau, a Seattle attorney who has filed the eight lawsuits against local Boy Scout councils in Arizona and expects to file four more in the state by the end of the year, said the Boy Scouts systematically failed to identify sexual predators who were Boy Scout leaders. , from preying children. "They did not warn the scouts and their families of the dangers," Pfau said.
Tim Kosnoff, an attorney who founded the national group Abuse in Scouting, said his group will file 250 to 300 sexual assault lawsuits against local Boy Scout councils in Arizona by the end of 2020.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection in February as the first step toward creating a compensation fund for men who were abused as youth decades ago by Scout masters or other leaders. Nearly 90,000 sexual abuse complaints have been filed against the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts are the latest major US institution to face a high price for sexual abuse. Roman Catholic dioceses across the country and schools such as Penn State and Michigan State have disbursed hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years.
One of the controversial issues yet to be addressed in the Boy Scout bankruptcy case is the extent to which the Boy Scout's local councils contribute to the compensation fund. In its bankruptcy filing, the national organization said that the councils, which have extensive properties and other assets, are separate legal entities and should not be included in the case as debtors.
Of Monday's eight lawsuits, four were filed in Maricopa County, three in Pima County, and one in Mohave County.
The councils of the Boy Scout in the Grand Canyon and Catalina made statements saying that the groups are apologizing to the children who have been harmed during their scouting time and that they were furious that their programs were run by people were used to abuse innocent children. “We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling from a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward,” the statements said.
The Las Vegas Area Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment on a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against him in Mohave County.
The Associated Press does not typically publish the names of sexual abuse victims, but Donald Calmes, who claimed in a lawsuit that a Scoutmaster sexually assaulted him in Arizona in the mid-1980s, agreed to speak on the plate to let victims know it's okay to talk about the abuse they've suffered.
Calmes alleges in his trial that the Scout leader used his position of trust and authority to sexually assault him on Scout camping trips when he was just a teenager. The lawsuit said the Boy Scouts should have known that the Boy Scout leader was likely to sexually assault children and was charged with five child abuse cases in California in 1983, at least a year before he abused Calmes.
Now 49, Calmes told the AP that he has spent more than 30 years trying to forget about the abuse, but it has always left him on his guard and unable to form real connections with people. A year ago, when he met the woman who would become his wife, Calmes said he decided to finally talk about what had happened to him. “We didn't choose this to happen to us,” said Calmes.
Pfau, one of the attorneys representing Calmes, said the Scout leader in question was never criminally charged with the abuse of Calmes, although he pleaded guilty to a child abuse offense in Stockton, California in 1983, was removed from Scouting in 1988. and died in 2011.
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