How To File A Suit Against Someone – Before 1994, there was knowledge of at least 2,000 cases of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. Most of the allegations were kept until 2010 in the Boy Scouts “perversion file lawsuit,” when the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of more than 14,500 pages of confidential internal documents that would have exposed the sexual abuse of boys dating back at least. 1965, although unreleased documents are said to stretch back to the 1920s. The files shed light on several cases where abusers continued to have access to children through organizations.
If you are a former Boy Scout member who has been abused, you may be wondering why the name of your scout leader appears in one of these perversion files. To what extent can the organization’s knowledge of the perpetrator’s past be proven? Here’s everything you need to know to file a civil lawsuit against Boy Scouts in California.
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You may be wondering how you can win in old cases where it’s your word against theirs. Many of these cases now rely on evidence compiled in the perversion file—or, as it is more eloquently labeled, “the list of ineligible volunteers.” The internal files are intended to keep suspected molesters from serving in scout leadership, and are kept confidential to protect the rights of victims and the wrongly accused. However, the massive trove of files show that Scouts often fail to report abuse to authorities and repeatedly cover up evidence to protect their reputation.
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After the 2010 court case, the perversion file was posted publicly online, allowing victims to search the name of the abuser to see what information was available from 1965-1985. If your abuse falls outside this window, you should work with an attorney to apply for the release of other documents for your case.
It may also be relevant to search public records of the perpetrator. According to University of Virginia Psychiatry Professor Janet Warren, more than 60% of “perversion files” include some type of easily accessible public information. “These public domain sources include newspaper articles, police reports, criminal justice records, and civil litigation records,” he told CNN, adding: “Most of the men on file were arrested at some point in their lives for sex crimes.” Thanks to Megan’s Law We, you can check public records related to California sex offenders here.
Fortunately, California is one of the most progressive states in protecting the right of child sexual abuse survivors to sue. Section 340 of the Civil Code gives California plaintiffs up to the age of 26 or within three years of finding harm to sue for offenses committed before January 1, 2015, but there are many exemptions, so it is better to seek legal advice before automatically assuming your deadline. if the file has passed.
Once you know that you may take legal action, one of the first decisions you will need to make is whether to press criminal charges and/or file a civil lawsuit against the BSA for the harm you have suffered. It is more difficult to obtain a verdict in criminal proceedings where the verdict must be unanimous and determined beyond a reasonable doubt, but it can put serial offenders behind bars. It is worth noting that there is a less demanding standard in civil cases, where judgments are rendered based on a “preponderance of evidence” that generally favors the plaintiffs.
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If the State District Attorney decides to prosecute the defendant on your behalf, the civil court proceedings may be “stayed” (put on hold) until the criminal case is over. If criminal culpability has been established, civil cases may have lower costs for discovery.
In sexual abuse cases involving serial abuse within an organization, perpetrators often do not rely solely on paying damages. Lawyers usually try to name institutions that help and prevent child molesters as defendants as well. All Boy Scouts of America organizations have a legal “duty of care” to take reasonable steps to keep children entrusted to their care safe from harm.
Camps and troops can be found directly responsible for sexual abuse if it is determined that they are negligent in screening, selecting, training, supervising, or retaining staff members and in taking “reasonable measures” to protect campers. Direct liability can be established when it is found that the perpetrator has been registered in the perversion file at the time of the offense.
For example, in a 2010 verdict, the jury found the Boy Scouts of America 60 percent negligent, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which sponsored that particular Boy Scout troop) 25 percent negligent, and the Cascade Pacific Council (which oversees scouting activities in the area ) 15 percent negligence.
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Both the perpetrator and the organization can be sued individually to recover compensation. As a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a Boy Scout leader, you may be entitled to compensation to cover:
To date, the $18.5 million Lewis vs Boy Scouts of America (2010) result represents one of the largest punitive damage awards in a sexual molestation case in US history. In another lawsuit, in Waterbury, Connecticut, $7 million was awarded in compensatory damages for sexual molestation and assault committed by a Boy Scout leader in the mid-70s. The jury found the Boy Scouts of America liable for $4 million in negligence and $3 million for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The exact amount of compensation you receive will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. No verdict can be guaranteed, but so far, many results have favored the plaintiffs, with large settlements and jury awards. According to Slate in 2009, the Boy Scouts set aside $65 million and carried additional insurance to pay for damages caused by negligence.
The Boy Scouts of America organization has been a defendant in at least 200 lawsuits since 2008. In the past, the BSA has fought to keep the perversion files sealed. They have settled cases out of court to prevent damaging documents from coming to light, and hired lobbyists to fight an expanded “lookback window” that would allow adult survivors to take legal action. But in recent years, the group has taken steps to protect children—including screening adult leaders, requiring mandatory training and reporting abuse, and providing counseling services to former scouts who were molested.
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BSA claims this “red file” comes to prevent known abusers from gaining access to children, but we see that, in many instances, such efforts fail. The LA Times found at least 50 cases where known pedophiles on the list of ineligible volunteers were allowed to rejoin the Boy Scouts after being blacklisted. If abuse cases like these were a part of your childhood, know that there are laws that protect you, even if others don’t.
The California attorneys at Lewis & Llewellyn are not intimidated by large organizations like the BSA. Our passionate and experienced trial lawyers have represented adult and child victims of sexual abuse across the nation, which is why a leading legal publication, The Daily Journal, recently described our firm as a “giant killer.”
Recognized for our track record of multi-million dollar settlements and awards, our passion lies in holding the worst types of predators accountable for their wrongdoing and helping survivors find a measure of dignity after trauma. Contact us or call +1 (415) 800-0590 for a free, confidential, no-obligation case review.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes only, and may not reflect the current laws in your jurisdiction. Nothing contained in this blog or on this website should be construed as legal advice from Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. Neither your receipt of information from this website, nor your use of this website to contact Lewis & Llewellyn LLP creates an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm or any of its attorneys. No reader of this website should act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in, or accessible through, this website without seeking appropriate legal advice regarding the specific facts and circumstances in question from a licensed attorney in the recipient’s jurisdiction.A key (Key A padlock is locked) or https:// means that you are securely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on secure official websites.
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