Former Idaho Scouts allege abuse

Suit accuses Scouts and LDS Church of shielding leaders who were known sexual abusers.

kterhune@idahostatesman.com, The Associated PressJune 25, 2013 

  • LDS CHURCH, BOY SCOUTS RESPOND

    Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the LDS church:

    "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind, and works diligently to prevent abuse and provide support and assistance to victims of abuse. Leaders at every level are instructed in how to safeguard against abuse and given tools to respond when it does occur. Anyone who engages in abuse of any kind is rightfully subject to both legal prosecution and to formal church discipline.

    "It's difficult to provide information on this particular case, as the plaintiffs are unnamed and the cases are between 28-41 years old, and at least one of the charges does not involve the Church. As a society, we've learned a great deal about abuse in the decades since these cases, and made large strides in recognizing and preventing this societal plague.

    "The Church has also taken important steps to address this issue and has been recognized for its efforts and record of preventing abuse and caring for those who have suffered from abuse. No Church does more to prevent abuse or address it immediately when it does occur. From a 24-hour help line to policies and practices that reduce risk to repeated training for Church leaders, the Church has dedicated significant efforts and resources to preventing and addressing abuse."

    Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith:

    "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 multitiered 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."

Four former Idaho Scouts filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday, alleging that both organizations knew about the abusers and the risks they posed to boys.

The LDS, which sponsored three of the four troops involved, and the Boy Scouts failed to remove abusers from the organization or notify police or parents, even after boys and their parents told them about cases of abuse or rape, lawyers for the victims said.

The four plaintiffs, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe I through IV, were allegedly sexually abused by Boy Scout leaders in Boise, Lewiston and McCall in the 1970s and '80s.

The men are seeking damages in excess of $75,000 each, with exact amounts to be determined by a jury, attorney Timothy Walton of Boise said.

Mostly, Walton said, the men want an apology. Parents and Scouts "were told to trust every Scoutmaster when the organizations knew of this danger," he said.

Attorney Gilion Dumas of Portland said it is common for sexual abuse victims to wait years before coming forward. "So few children, when they're abused, tell anybody," she said. She said she believes other Scouts who were victims of sexual abuse are still living in the Boise area.

"Just by a review of the information contained in the Boy Scouts' own records and from newspaper stories, there were at least 15 pedophile Scout leaders in southern Idaho and Lewiston," lawyer Andrew Chasan said in a statement.

Three of the men say they were in troops sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that they were abused by Scout leaders while at Scouting functions or on camping trips.

The fourth says he was in a troop sponsored by the Elks Club in Lewiston when he was abused.

In the lawsuit, the men allege the LDS Church was such a proponent of Scouting that it made joining the Boy Scouts an official part of the Aaronic Priesthood, a status the Church confers on boys starting at age 12. The men contend every LDS ward was supposed to maintain a Scout troop, and that church leaders were in charge of selecting and supervising Scout leaders.

The Boy Scouts began keeping files on people who were deemed ineligible to volunteer for the organization - because they molested children, stole money from the organization or committed other transgressions - as early as 1920, according to the lawsuit.

The men contend that the existence of those files shows the Boy Scouts of America knew Scouts faced a real risk of abuse.

They say the BSA's failure to warn prospective and current Scouts, their parents and others shows a pattern of fraud and misrepresentation. Likewise, the men say the LDS Church knew that some of its Scoutmasters and troop leaders had molested boys in the past and that it nevertheless continued to put boys in danger.

John Doe I and John Doe II say they were around 12 years old when the same Scout leader began abusing them on camping trips. Doe I also says the abuse happened in 1982 at a ward building and in the attic of the BSA Council headquarters in Boise.

John Doe III contends he was about 14 years old in 1981 when a different Scout leader abused him on a weeklong camping trip. He says even though that Scout leader was placed in the Boy Scout's ineligible volunteer files a few years later for allegedly molesting Scouts.

John Doe IV says he was a member of Scout Troop 176 in Lewiston when his Scout leader began molesting him.

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service