BOISE – Four former Boy Scouts, including a Spokane man, filed a federal lawsuit Monday charging that they were sexually abused by Scout leaders during camping trips and other Scouting events in the 1970s and 1980s.
The lawsuit, which asks for at least $75,000 in damages for each of the four men, charges that the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS church, which sponsored three of the four Scouts’ troops, failed to prevent the abuse and allowed pedophiles to continue in Scouting roles.
Secret files kept by the Boy Scouts, made public as part of an earlier lawsuit in Oregon, documented cases of abuse and directed, in some cases, that the offenders be excluded from Scouting.
“It is difficult to comprehend why the defendants did not warn the boys and their parents of this danger,” said Boise attorney Andrew Chasan, one of the three attorneys from two law firms who filed the lawsuit on Monday.
A similar lawsuit in Idaho was settled last November for an undisclosed sum; it also involved a former Idaho Scout and targeted both the BSA and the LDS church.
The abuse described in the new lawsuit took place in Boise, Lewiston and McCall, Idaho, and allegedly involved three former Scout leaders, James Schmidt, Dennis Empey and Lawrence Libey, all of whom later were arrested and convicted of similar offenses. The victims were all 12 to 14 years old when the abuse began.
In response to media inquiries about such cases, the BSA issued a statement: “There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong. Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.”
The statement also said BSA now requires background checks, comprehensive training and requires all cases of suspected abuse to be reported to authorities.
The new lawsuit charges that both BSA and the church “fraudulently misrepresented, failed to disclose, and/or actively concealed the dangers and prevalence of child molesters in scouting.” It says at least 10 Scout leaders in Idaho were accused of molesting children between 1962 and 1983.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.