Under a court order stemming from a case in Portland, Oregon, the Boy Scouts of America released voluminous files, 14,500 pages in total. The files, which are being called the “Perversion Files” detail decades of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of minors by Scout Leaders from 1959-1985. The records were previously kept secret. More recent records are anticipated to be forthcoming.
The records release may have significant legal ramifications for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and help bring justice to the thousands of sexual abuse victims. The atrocities are reminiscent of the Catholic sex abuse cases that came to light nationally 2002. The Catholic Church has since paid more than $3 billion to abuse victims in the U.S.
Other Scout victims have claimed their perpetrators were not included in the records release. It also begs the question as to the extent of abuse that has occurred within the Girl Scouts.
Reactive Measure by the BSA
In recent years, BSA has taken measures to improve its youth protection, including:
– Prohibiting one-on-one adult-youth activities
– All adult volunteers must take child-protection training
– Mandate criminal background checks for all staff that work with youth
– Adult volunteers must report suspected child abuse to law enforcement authorities and BSA officials
The Amount of Time Victims Have to File a Lawsuit
The amount of time victims have to bring a civil or criminal case varies from state to state. In Washington State, children typically have until three years from their 18th birthday to bring a civil lawsuit or their case is forever barred. However, by law the statute of limitations is different for cases involving sexual abuse.
However, Washington has a “delayed discovery” rule in its Statute of Limitations. What this means is that “delayed discovery” allows for victims of sexual abuse to seek justice from their abuse within three years of the date the memories are discovered. This is due to the fact that sexual abuse victims may block or purposely forget memories. Victims of sexual abuse and exploitation should seek therapy to aid in their recovery and document the memory discovery.
Washington’s law goes even further than most states in protecting victims’ rights. Currently state law allows for the SOL period to commence from three years of the discovery of the causal relationship between the abuse and injury.
No Institution Should be Shielded from the Law
Holding people and institutions accountable for their actions is critical in protecting the public from abuse and wrongdoing. Whether it a university, corporation, government agency, church, or other institution, they should never be allowed to put their interests above those wronged and seriously harmed by negligent and illegal acts.
Those that have been the victim of sexual abuse by the Scouts or any other person or institution, should act quickly and contact a sexual abuse lawyer seasoned in litigating high damage cases.