IDAHO – Four former Idaho boy scouts are suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America because they say neither group did enough to prevent them from being sexually abused as children.
The attorneys for the four men with Idaho ties make the case that both organizations could have done more to prevent sexual abuse of young boy scouts, and they are taking that case to a United States District Court.
Attorney Gilion Dumas said the groups had knowledge of child predators lurking in scouting troops in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
"The boy scouts and the LDS church need to be held responsible, because they're the ones who had that information and intentionally chose to keep it secret," she said. "Because of the information that they had, that they chose to keep secret from the people who actually needed it."
The allegations stem from the release of documents that contain the names of ineligible male volunteers, men against whom the BSA had documented complaints of sexual abuse. The attorneys for the four men said the documents were kept secret and in some cases destroyed.
Attorney Andrew Chasan said these documents indicate there were a number of child predators.
"We know that in Idaho alone there were 15 different pedophiles, based on these documents," he said.
The plaintiffs, whose identities are being kept secret, want a jury to rule on the case and award damages. The attorneys for those men said they want something too.
"We want justice for them,” Chasan said. “We want an apology for them, and we want the organizations to be better-accountable and do a better job in screening their leaders."
The attorneys said they believe more cases like this one will come out in the future, and they hope this case will encourage other victims to speak out.
LDS Church Spokesman Eric Hawkins released the following statement in response:
“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 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.
It’s difficult to provide information on this particular case, as the plaintiffs are unnamed and the cases are between 28-41 years old, and at least one of the charges does not involve the Church. As a society, we’ve learned a great deal about abuse in the decades since these cases, and made large strides in recognizing and preventing this societal plague.
The Church has also taken important steps to address this issue and has been recognized for its efforts and record of preventing abuse and caring for those who have suffered from abuse. No Church does more to prevent abuse or address it immediately when it does occur. From a 24-hour help line to policies and practices that reduce risk to repeated training for Church leaders, the Church has dedicated significant efforts and resources to preventing and addressing abuse.”