Classified as one of the most renowned organizations for training in survival and life skills, the Boy Scouts of America is not what one would have previously correlated with raging child sexual abuse. However, over the past couple of years, over 92,000 cases have been revealed to have taken place within the BSA, resulting in the organization filing for bankruptcy[i], after paying over $150 million in settlements. According to the Child Victims Act, victims of sexual assault used to have until the age of 23 to file a civil class action lawsuit against their abuser.
Thankfully, the terms of this act have been changed and now, a victim has until the age of 55. But what about the many that were unable to report their abusers, who were unfortunately subjected to the old statute? In August of 2019, the state of New York issued a one-year extension for this precise population, which was later extended, due to the vast amount of claims the courts received. The deadline to submit said claims is now August 14th, 2021, which is now closed. [ii] The New York City Bar Association supplies a good summary of the rights of victims in New York. [iii]
Abuse Victims Cope in Many Different Ways
It has been well documented that a victim of sexual abuse in any sense of the word is going to face some form of trauma, and everyone deals with trauma differently. People who have been sexually abused in their youth are likely to experience repression, shame, unwillingness to put someone in a position where they might get in trouble, or even inability to understand if what happened to them is actually sexual abuse.
The Boy Scouts of America teaches young men to possess strong merit, emphasizing values such as bravery, obedience, loyalty, and reverence, potentially facing some form of ridicule from others if not carried out to the best of their abilities. So, by these standards, it’s not shocking that some of the victims involved in BSA have not come forward until years later.
92,000 Abuse Victims File Compensation Claims
The Boy Scout values are important and are preached to them day in and day out after all. So, why would a scout alert a guardian or a higher-up if they are just practicing routine obedience to being inappropriately touched? They wouldn’t. A loyal and obedient boy scout wouldn’t sell out their scout leader in fear that they are wrong or will face consequences for not adhering to the morals thrust upon them. Or, let’s not forget that some may not even understand it was wrong until years later. So, it’s naive to think that all 92,000 people (and counting) who are just now taking action against their abusers would have been ready to file a claim before the age of 23; especially those whose experiences took place in the mid-1900s, when sexual abuse just simply wasn’t talked about the way it is today.
This issue has fortunately been brought back into the light, now giving victims the opportunity to speak up. Defendants can take many forms in these cases as well. Some victims may only be able to recall their abuser’s first name or nickname given to them. Therefore organizations or institutions as a whole can be considered defendants, providing a great deal of leeway for attorneys to be able to find their clients’ abusers and have them convicted.
If you suspect someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, we are here to help.
Over the last 30 years, Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP has represented abuse victims and their families. We have experienced attorneys who are specialized in working sexual abuse cases. Visit our Child Sexual Abuse page or confidentially contact us at (212) 684-1880 to learn more about our services and how we can help you recover financial compensation, as well as receive justice for you or your loved ones.