A lawsuit filed Monday accuses the Boy Scouts of America of failing to protect a former Scout from sexual abuse at the hands of his Scouting leader. The anonymous plaintiff joins nearly 800 men across the U.S. who claim they were molested and abused by leaders within the Boy Scouts and had their abuse covered up by the organization.
These sexual abuse survivors came together to share their stories and seek justice for their abuse through a movement called “Abused in Scouting” (AIS). Created by a team of lawyers, Abused in Scouting encourages victims of Scouting abuse to come forward, share their testimonies, and hold the Boy Scouts accountable for their negligence in protecting children from sexual predators.
The lawyers behind Abused in Scouting announced the lawsuit’s filing at a landmark press conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Filed in Philadelphia, PA, the lawsuit alleges that the former scout (referred to as “S.D.”) was sexually abused hundreds of times at the hands of his Scouting leader over a period of four years in the 1970’s. The lawsuit calls for $50,000 in damages from the Boy Scouts and the identified alleged abuser Paul Antosh of Wilkes-Barre, PA, a former assistant Scoutmaster in the plaintiff’s Scouting troop
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Boy Scouts in representing victims and representing people who have been victimized by the Boy Scouts is the Boy Scouts don’t protect children,” said attorney Stewart Eisenburg, one of the lawyers representing Scouting abuse victims.
According to Abused in Scouting’s team, Scouting abuse problems started from inception. The Boy Scouts of America, founded by Congress in 1916, documented cases of organizational sexual abuse in what is now called “the Perversion Files,” many of these cases dating from the beginning years of the organization. An expert hired by the Boy Scouts analyzed the files dating from 1944 to 2016 and uncovered that well over 12,000 boy scouts were victims of sexual abuse, with over 7,800 sexual predators. However, that number could be far greater since many victims of sexual abuse never report their abuse due to the deeply traumatic nature of sexual assault.
“It’s the largest pedophile ring on earth,” alleges lawyer Tim Kosnoff, who has represented sexual abuse victims since 1995. “The numbers we’re talking about now dwarf what we’ve seen in the Catholic Church cases.”
Abused in Scouting’s lawyers first came together when they heard of the Boy Scouts of America potentially filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would impact the legal rights of those who claim to have been abused and victimized in Scouting. The team of attorneys calls for Scouting abuse victims to share their stories, break the silence of Scouting abuse, let other victims know they are not alone, and know justice for their abuse can be achieved.
“So many brave men have come forward over the past six months to speak with us,to share their stories with us—a lot of them for the first time—and it’s difficult,” said attorney Andrew Van Arsdale. “They have to go back to when they are 10, 11, 12-years-old and recount the most horrific experience of their entire life, and that’s really hard. So, I want to say thank you to all of you that have come forward and have been willing to share with us to try to put a stop this rampant abuse that’s within this organization.”
Since Abused in Scouting’s founding in February, nearly 800 men have come forward, spanning across the nation and ranging in age from 14 to 88. So far, Abused in Scouting’s clients have identified over 350 abusers who were never named in the Boy Scout’s files. AIS decided not to release the names to the public at this time in order to confirm through law enforcement the validity of the allegations.
While the Boy Scouts claim to have been alerting law enforcement when they receive news of an alleged abuser from Abused in Scouting, AIS calls for the Boy Scouts to do more, make the names of alleged abusers still in the organization public. The lawyers called out Congress to do their part, as well, since the BSA receives federal subsidies and other resources from the U.S. government. Abused in Scouting’s attorneys challenged Congress to thoroughly investigate the Boy Scouts of America in order to protect not only past victims, but future generations of Boy Scouts.
“Step up, Congress. Do your job. If you can’t protect kids, then what good are you?” Kosnoff said.