by Jamie Grey
BOISE — A former Treasure Valley Boy Scout, a “John Doe,” who’s part of a lawsuit against the scouts and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is speaking exclusively to KTVB, explaining why he’s suing decades after he says he was sexually abused and why he still doesn’t want his identity known.
The lawsuit now includes at least a dozen men, and attorneys on the case say more are expected to join. All but one are listed as John Doe on the filing. Most say they were the victim of one man: Jim Schmidt, a former Caldwell scoutmaster who was convicted of abusing another scout in 1983.
“He seemed to love scouting. He seemed to care about the people that he led, the boys. The boys liked him. He gave us a lot of attention,” Doe, the plaintiff, said.
When this John Doe was 12 and 13 years old, he says his scoutmaster sexually abused him at scout meetings held at an LDS church, at the scoutmaster’s home, in the scoutmaster’s car, but mostly on camping trips.
“Some of us had fathers that were very busy. Some didn’t have fathers, or fathers that were absent, and Jim Schmidt filled a void in the lives of a lot of us boys,” Doe said.
Eventually, he left the scouts and says he didn’t tell anyone of the horrors he’d experienced until Schmidt was arrested years later and someone gave him a newspaper clipping knowing that was his former scoutmaster.
“That was the first time I told, and said, no. I’m not surprised,” Doe said.
Eventually, this John Doe says he learned like others in the same lawsuit that there were files kept by the scouts. The files are known as the “perversion files” and were made public after a 2010 abuse case in Oregon.
The documents show years of abuse allegations in which volunteers were known or possible abusers. There was a file on Jim Schmidt which shows complaints written before this John Doe’s abuse and is the basis for the current lawsuit.
“The perversion files exist, and they are searchable from the internet. As such, [with] my own curiosity, I was able to look up Jim Schmidt and see that he was named in the perversion files. That the abuse that I sustained and the propensity to abuse was known because of evidence he had abused people years before me,” Doe said.
The specific claim in the lawsuit is fraud: That the two institutions in charge of Doe’s troop didn’t protect him by withholding knowledge of abuse allegations by specific volunteers.
“Without a doubt, what happened to me was preventable,” Doe said.
Today, he says he’s a part of the lawsuit to try to get change in policies, but says he’s remaining anonymous because of a stigma he feels is attached to victims of abuse, even decades later.
“I feel that our society views victims of childhood sexual abuse as survivors, but not as whole people who are equal or equivalent to them,” Doe said.
He is concerned for how other parents may react knowing his past or how his business could be impacted if people defined him by his past.
“As such, I’m worried about my reputation if information of my identity were to be released,” Doe said.
Even though Doe says he wants the lawsuit to help right past wrongs he says were preventable, he says personally, he doesn’t allow his past to define his present or future and consciously chooses to be positive and productive with speaking out being one example.
“Truly the human being is resilient, and we can overcome these things and become successful, happy people,” said Does. It’s a personal decision.”
This lawsuit could take years to resolve, according to Doe’s attorney.
Jim Schmidt’s affiliation with the Ore-Ida Boy Scout Council was terminated after he was charged in 1983. He was also later convicted of sexual abuse in Maryland in 1996.
Both the LDS church and Boy Scouts are denying allegations through court filings. They are using legal defenses including if anything inappropriate or illegal did happen – it was caused by others, not those organizations, and if abuse happened, it was outside the scope of those leaders’ duties as volunteers, so they aren’t liable.
Both organizations have told KTVB in the past that there is zero tolerance for abuse.