by Jamie Grey and Associated Press
BOISE — Four men are suing the Mormon church and Boy Scouts of America in federal court because they say they were sexually abused while attending scouting functions in Idaho. The men, who are now in their 40s and 50s, say the institutions failed to inform parents and police of the potential threat of abuse.
Attorneys Gilion Dumas, Andrew Chasan and Timothy Walton filed the lawsuit in Boise’s U.S. District Court on Monday on behalf of the four men, who are named only as John Does I (one) through IV (four) in the lawsuit to protect their privacy.
Three of the men in the lawsuit say they were in troops sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they were abused by scout leaders while at scouting functions or on camping trips. The fourth says he was in a troop sponsored by the Elks Club in Lewiston when he was abused.
According to their lawyers, the four male victims, previously didn’t have any reason to think the Scouts or the LDS Churches who sponsored the troops knew there was a threat of abusers in the program. That recently changed when thousands of documents were made public last year.
Thousands of so-called “Perversion Files” came out after a 2010 abuse case against an assistant scout master in Oregon. The documents show years of abuse allegations and which volunteer leaders were known abusers. One of the attorneys on that case, Gilion Dumas, is now involved in the newly-filed Idaho case.
“Our fraud theory is based on the idea that the Boy Scouts and the LDS Church, as the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts, knew for decades that pedophiles were targeting their organizations in order to get access to young boys so that they could sexually exploit, molest and abuse these boys,” Dumas said.
The new Idaho case involves four alleged victims; two who say they were abused by the same man. Some of the alleged perpetrators were in the “Perversion Files” for past instances that happened before the victims’ alleged abuse on camping trips, in LDS ward buildings and the Boy Scouts Council Headquarters in Boise.
For example, one man was put into the files years before he then worked with the victim in an Idaho Boy Scout troop.
“Because the file system was secret, the Boy Scouts never informed the sponsoring organization or the families that he was in the files and kicked out, so he kept showing up at troop meetings for several more years and continued to abuse scouts,” Dumas said.
The lawsuit sites several places in the Boy Scout handbook from the era the victims were in the scouts, all of which encourage scouts to seek help, instruction and guidence from their leaders. Because some leaders were in fact in confidential files with known abuse allegations, attorneys say not disclosing that information was contradictory to what scouts learned and posed danger.
“[The Boy Scouts and LDS Church] had a duty to disclose the problem because of the special relationship of trust and confidence that exists between these organizations and the young boys who join scouting,” Chasen said.
Now the four victims are asking for an apology and any money a jury would see fit if the scouts and church were found guilty.
“The victims want an apology. They want their voice heard. They’ve lived with this horrible secret their entire lives. They have been prisoners in their own minds for their entire lives, and they want justice. And that’s what we’re seeking,” attorney Tim Walton said.
The attorneys say they’ve already identified more potential victims and expect more could come forward.
“Given the prevalence of Boy Scouts in Idaho, how many thousands of children were involved in Boy Scouts as they were growing up, we think it’s definitely likely that there are other victims of these three pedophiles,” Dumas said.
KTVB reached out to both the LDS Church in Salt Lake City and the Boy Scouts of America. Their emailed responses are below:
Statement from the LDS Church:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, and works diligently to prevent abuse and provide support and assistance to victims of abuse. Leaders at every level are instructed in how to safeguard against abuse and are given tools to respond when it does occur. Anyone who engages in abuse of any kind is rightfully subject to both legal prosecution and to formal Church discipline.”
Statement from the Boy Scouts of America:
“Any instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. While we can’t comment on the lawsuit, we deeply regret that there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims. The BSA was one of the first youth programs to develop youth protection policies and education, and has continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies, like requiring all members to report even suspicions of abuse directly to local law enforcement.”