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Boy Scouts of America named in WNY CVA lawsuit

Victims' attorney: "They want answers"
Posted: 11:57 PM, Aug 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-15 23:57:14-04

(WKBW) — Twelve minutes after the 12:01 a.m. one-year look-back Child Victims Act window opened on Wednesday, a 78 page suit was filed in Erie County Court against the Boy Scouts of America and the Greater Niagara Frontier Council.

Attorney Vincent Nappo works for one of the Seattle-based law firms representing the five plaintiffs.

"I can tell you, speaking on behalf of the men that I represent, they want public awareness about this problem, they want to make sure the organization is held accountable and they want answers to know why this happened, how this happened, how many people were affected," Nappo said.

The suit details alleged sexual abuse between the late '60s through the late '70s by four scoutmasters or assistant scoutmasters in Western New York.

"You can't just do nothing for decades to warn people, to warn the men that I represent," Nappo said.

The Boy Scouts of America are among the numerous organization forced to defend themselves in civil litigation. A day into the one-year look-back window and hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across the state.

"We just fully expect that each time somebody comes forward and tells their story it empowers somebody else who maybe thought they were along or maybe thought hey if she can do it, I can do it or if he could do it, I can do it," Buffalo-based Attorney Steve Body said.

Within the last 10 years, the Boy Scouts' "perversion files" were made public. The files--a list of named of adult leaders accused or criminally convicted of abusing child scouts.

Attorneys like Boyd and Nappo agree many names were left out of that public list.

"The Scouts have not released a comprehensive list yet and that's something we're going to try and force them to do over the next year," Boyd said.

Nappo added: "That's frankly something the Boy Scouts should do voluntarily. They should release these files. Transparency is always the better way to handle this type of situation."

The Boy Scouts of America released this statement:

"Consistent with our commitment to protecting Scouts and upholding our values as an organization, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) strongly supports efforts to ensure that anyone who commits sexual abuse is held accountable. First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. It is BSA policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.

Regarding the BSA’s general position on statute of limitations reform:

  • We support the complete elimination of the criminal statute of limitations for child abuse.
  • We support extending the civil statute of limitations against individual abusers and expanding the civil statute of limitations for child abuse on a prospective basis.
  • We support retroactive reforms of civil statute of limitations if an organization knowingly concealed or otherwise withheld evidence of wrongdoing. We also support retroactive statute of limitations reform for claims against individual abusers.
  • We believe it is imperative that all convicted abusers serve their full criminal sentences and comply with any post-release requirements to protect children and reduce recidivism.
  • We do not oppose efforts to strengthen protections for survivors of sexual abuse, including by reforming civil and criminal statutes of limitations governing allegations of abuse.

We do, however, have concerns with reforms that impose retroactive liability on organizations that did not have actual knowledge of the specific misconduct underlying an allegation of abuse, and we have expressed those concerns along with other similarly affected organizations, including state education agencies and other community organizations.

Regarding the BSA’s Youth Protection Policies:

The BSA has taken significant steps over many years to ensure that we respond aggressively to reports of abuse. It is BSA policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.

Today, the BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards that serve as barriers to abuse, including:

  • Ongoing mandatory youth protection education for all volunteers, parents, and Scouts;
  • A leader selection process that includes criminal background checks and other screening efforts;
  • A leadership policy which requires at least two youth protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and prohibits one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text;
  • Prompt mandatory reporting to law enforcement of any allegation or suspicion of abuse;
  • A 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-726-8871) and email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior; and
  • The Volunteer Screening Database – a tool the Centers for Disease Control recommends for all youth-serving organizations – to bar individuals that should not be working with children from joining our programs.

We believe victims and remove individuals based on only allegations of inappropriate behavior. We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many and we are continually improving all of our policies to prevent abuse.

This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, and thus allowing all youth serving organizations to share and access such information.

We call upon Congress and other youth serving organizations to support this initiative. Experts note that among the general US population, one in six men have experienced sexual abuse or assault at some point in their lives. This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed, and we seek to be part of the solution along with all other youth-serving organizations."