A Spokane man has filed suit in King County against the Boy Scouts of America and its Inland Northwest Council, claiming he was sexually abused in the late 1970s by an infamous serial child predator who once volunteered as a Scout leader.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in King County Superior Court on behalf of a 44-year-old man who says he was abused when he was in the Boy Scouts in Spokane beginning in the summer or fall of 1978.
He names as his abuser Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller, who has been convicted of abusing children in several states over three decades.
Schwartzmiller, 70, is currently serving 152 years to life in the California prison system after being convicted in 2007 of 11 counts of child molestation and possession of child pornography.
When Schwartzmiller was arrested in Everett in 2005, police discovered in his possession a 456-page memoir documenting years of sexual abuse of possibly hundreds of boys in eight states, Mexico and Brazil, according to news accounts.
When he lived in Spokane, he already had a criminal history of child molestation dating back to a 1970 conviction in Juneau, Alaska.
“How this man could be a Scout leader in the late ’70s when he had been convicted of child sex crimes in 1970 is truly baffling,” said Seattle attorney James S. Rogers, who is representing the Spokane plaintiff identified only as M.D. in court records.
The lawsuit alleges the Boy Scouts knew, or should have known, that Schwartzmiller was a pedophile and failed to protect children from him.
M.D., who was about 12 years old at the time, was allegedly abused by Schwartzmiller over a period of about a year during camping outings at Liberty Lake Regional Park and at Schwartzmiller’s Spokane apartment.
The lawsuit further alleges that other troop leaders, “including an individual with the first name of Virgil, encouraged Scout members to participate in inappropriate activities, including sexual activities, during Liberty Lake camp-outs.”
A reporter’s call to the Inland Northwest Council for comment was referred to the Boy Scouts’ national public relations office in Irving, Texas.
“In the 30 years since the alleged incidents occurred, the BSA has continued to enhance its youth protection efforts in line with society’s increased understanding of the dangers children face,” said Deron Smith, director of public relations for the Boy Scouts of America.
In June, a separate lawsuit was filed in U.S. district courts in Washington on behalf of seven former Boy Scouts who say they were abused by Scout leaders in the 1970s.
In one of those cases, a Monroe, Wash., man said he was abused at Camp Cowles on Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County in 1974.
The lawsuits cite internal Boy Scouts documents that show the organization knew for decades that it was vulnerable to infiltration by pedophiles, yet it failed to develop and enforce practices to protect children.