Look-back windows in the law are allowing more childhood victims to seek justice against their abusers.
Attorneys from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California have teamed up to form Abused in Scouting, a legal powerhouse featuring Stewart Eisenberg, Kenneth Rothweiler, and Joshua Schwartz of Eisenberg Rothweiler, the Philadelphia-based litigation giant, to prosecute alleged sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America.
Recent changes in the law, such as New York’s Child Victims Act, are making it possible for men who were allegedly sexually molested as children by a Boy Scouts leader to come forward and prosecute their abusers. Abused in Scouting is urging men to seek legal counsel before “look-back” windows of time allowed by law close forever and bar these victims from any sort of chance at justice.
“The state legislators, like what we just witnessed in New York, that are actively working on behalf of sexual abuse survivors are vital to our system of justice in this country,” maintains Andrew Van Arsdale of AVA Law Group, a San Diego, California, based attorney who forms part of the Abused in Scouting legal team. “For too long, institutions like the Boy Scouts of America have been able to hide behind time-based limitations that restrict a victim’s ability to hold these groups accountable for knowingly placing innocent children in the care of sexual predators.”
Prior to the passing of the Child Victims Act, adults in New York who were sexually abused as children only had until their 23rd birthday to bring forth claims against their abusers or the institutions where these predators worked or volunteered. Once the act becomes law on February 14, 2019, victims will have until age 55 to do so. Those who previously failed to bring a claim in the past will now have a one-year look-back window to come forth and present allegations.
According to Child USA, a non-profit organization created to protect children from abuse, “Most child victims of sexual assault disclose, if they disclose at all, during adulthood, with a median age of 48 and an average age of 52.”
Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts of America has lobbied against these child abuse protection bills in an effort to shield themselves from ongoing lawsuits. In 2017, the BSA spent $137,500 on two lobbyists in New York state alone to oppose the Child Victims Act, arguing that the look-back periods violate due process and put them in a difficult position to defend themselves against decades-old allegations.
With the Child Victims Act soon going into effect, Abused in Scouting attorneys Eisenberg, Rothweiler, and Schwartz are gearing up to assist alleged sexual assault victims of the Boy Scouts of America in bringing claims against their abusers. The legal team is best known for their work in securing a historic $265 million-dollar settlement for victims of the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. They were also successful in obtaining $101 million for victims of the Tropicana parking garage collapse in Atlantic City in a 2007 settlement package. Now that other states such as California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Utah are enacting similar look-back legislation on childhood sexual abuse cases, Abused in Scouting is urging victims to come forward with their stories before the window of time to secure justice closes on them forever.