A Hayden man has filed a negligence lawsuit against the local chapter of the Boy Scouts, alleging a leader and convicted sex offender abused him in the early 2000s on camping trips and other events.
The lawsuit, filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court, contains allegations against Ralph “Ray” Emerson Willcox Jr., now 73, that he molested the man, who was then younger than 13. The victim is identified in court documents only by initials.
The lawsuit was filed against the Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Anthony Escobar, scout executive and chief executive officer of the group, said that steps had been taken to bar Willcox from ever serving with the organization again.
“The actions alleged to have been committed by Ralph Willcox are reprehensible and opposed to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) stands for,” Escobar said. “He was added to the BSA’s Volunteer Screening Database in 2003 thus banning him from any future registration and participation with the BSA.”
Willcox is now living in Nevada. He has had to register as a sex offender since his release from custody in September 2012, after pleading guilty to a count of second-degree child molestation. The scout leader, who also served as a substitute teacher at local public and Catholic high schools, pleaded guilty after a boy came forward saying he’d been touched inappropriately by Willcox at his Otis Orchards home during the summer of 2002.
The Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts immediately removed Willcox as Scoutmaster of Troop 413 when the boy’s father reported the behavior, according to previous reporting.
The new allegations in the lawsuit accuse Willcox of using “his authority as a Scout leader and volunteer … to groom Plaintiff and sexually abuse him, including during Scout meetings, Scout merit badge activities, and Scout (camping) trips,” according to the lawsuit, from 2002 through 2003.
The national organization has been grappling for years with its response to widespread allegations of abuse, eventually filing for bankruptcy protection in February 2020 in an effort to settle claims against it. A proposed settlement agreement worth $2.7 billion is being reviewed by a bankruptcy judge in Delaware.
Willcox is a named party in that legal action, Escobar said.
A hearing in the Spokane County case is scheduled before Superior Court Judge Michael Price in September.
The national organization offers assistance to anyone who has been abused in scouts or who knows anyone who has been accused in scouts, through its partnership with 1in6, a national resource for sexual abuse providers. Services can be accessed at 1in6.org/BSA.
The Boy Scouts also have a 24/7 telephone helpline available by dialing 1-844-SCOUTS1. Suspected abuse can be reported using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
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