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Boy Scouts respond: ‘Any abuse is intolerable’

Deron Smith, director of public relations for the Boy Scouts of America, issued this statement today in response to the new federal lawsuit in Idaho:

“Any instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. While we can’t comment on the lawsuit, we deeply regret that there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims. The BSA was one of the first youth programs to develop youth protection policies and education, and has continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies, like requiring all members to report even suspicions of abuse directly to local law enforcement.”

Lawsuit charges Idaho scouts were abused in ‘70s, ‘80s, says BSA and LDS Church covered up

Four former Idaho Boy Scouts, including a Spokane man, filed a federal lawsuit in Boise today 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, but 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.

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 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; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Opponents of Camp Easton swap file lawsuit to block sale to developer

A group of Inland Northwest backers and supporters of the Boy Scout's popular Camp Easton have filed a lawsuit trying to halt the sale of the camp to an Arizona developer.

The suit, filed recently in Kootenai County District Court by the group Camp Easton Forever, seeks a permanent injunction that would prevent any future sale of Camp Easton. They assert that the original donation of the land restricted its use forever as a Scout camp.

Camp Easton Forever is a nonprofit group created last month in response to announced plans by the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts of America to explore selling Camp Easton to Discover Land Co., which has also developed a residential area and golf course along Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The camp sale is not a done deal. The Inland Northwest Council has said its board will decide at some point if the option of building a new and safer Scout camp justifies selling Camp Easton.

No date has been set for that review and a board vote on the sale, said Tim McCandless, the CEO of the Inland Northwest Council. 

Discover has proposed buying 380 acres on which Camp Easton sits, then building another newer camp on 270 acres along Sunup Bay on the other side of the lake. Opponents say the new land doesn't offer the beach that Camp Easton has, and they claim the appeal of Camp Easton is its age and tradition.

McCandless and board members say they are obliged to review the offer and consider whether the new site, along with a capital improvement fund provided by Discover, are in the best interests of future Boy Scouts.

A copy of the lawsuit filed in Kootenai County District Court is here.