The Boy Scouts of America have released new documents that implicate many Georgia scout leaders in child sexual abuse, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
According to the “perversion files,” 97 Georgia Boy Scout leaders have been accused of sexually abusing their scouts over the years. Out of the accused scout leaders, 44 led troops in metro Atlanta.
The Boy Scouts of America say that they have a system in place for weeding out child molesters. All adults reportedly undergo a background check and their names are sent to the national headquarters to check against the names of accused pedophiles. However, the organization admits that it has failed to adequately address cases of molestation in the past.
“There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong,” Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.
Atlanta parents were horrified about the allegations and the organization’s failure to act. “Not only did they cover it up,” said Bryan Garner, whose son is a Scout in Decatur. “They sent people away and let them back in.”
If the allegations are true, the victims and their families could sue the scout leaders for sexual battery. Sexual battery is the civil equivalent of rape or sexual assault. Instead of penalizing the counselor with fines and jail time, a civil suit would allow the alleged victim to receive compensation for any injuries, pain and suffering, and emotional distress the incident caused him.
On the other hand, suing the Boy Scouts of America rather than just the individual scout leaders would probably be more effective, since it would be easier to enforce a judgment against an organization with deep pockets. The victims could sue the association for negligence, claiming it has a duty to protect its scouts from abuse and, by ignoring reports of pedophiles, it breached that duty and allowed the victims to be injured.
However, the statute of limitations may have run for some of the victims. Under Georgia law, the 2-year statute of limitations in a personal injury case is suspended, or “tolled,” until the child’s 18th birthday. That means that a victim has until his 20th birthday to bring his claim.
- Call an Atlanta Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Boy Scout files reveal disturbing instances of abuse (The Atlanta Journal-Constitutions)
- Sex Crimes (FindLaw)
- Woman Swears at Cops in Front of Teens: Freedom of Speech? (FindLaw’s Atlanta Injury Law Blog)