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Montana Council of Boy Scouts faces 3 fresh sexual abuse lawsuits

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'Boy Scout Salute,' by Norman Rockwell, featured on the cover of Boys' Life

“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 4/30/20

Beginning in May 2019, Montana passed a law that permitted otherwise time-barred lawsuits against entities that should have known about child sexual abuse and allegedly failed to prevent it. Working against a ticking clock and taking advantage of that allowance, three men filed lawsuits against the Montana Council of the Boy Scouts of America and two sponsoring agencies on April 29, alleging they had been subjected to sexual abuse at scouting camps decades ago—and that evidence of such abuses had been observed or acknowledged without reporting to authorities. The lawsuits are the latest in a nationwide spate against the Boy Scouts of America, “which filed for bankruptcy protection in February to consolidate nearly 300 lawsuits and other expected claims,” reports the Flathead Beacon. Local councils are separate legal entities from the national organization, but at least two other lawsuits in Montana have targeted both the state’s council and the national body, alleging scout leaders abused them when improperly supervised. Christopher Ford, one of the April 29 lawsuit plaintiffs, has plenty of ground to stand on: “A year after Ford told his parents about the abuse during a Scout outing near Libby in 1974, assistant Scoutmaster John David McBride pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child and deviate sexual conduct without consent. The counts involved several boys.” The lawsuits, filed under the firm of Seattle attorney Michael Pfau, seek a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages. According Pfau, the Boy Scouts of America have kept ineligible volunteer files practically since the organization’s inception, and files released through other cases allege that more than 12,000 boys have been molested by 7,800 perpetrators while active in the Boy Scouts of America. According to Pfau, the Boy Scout’s failure “to institute effective policies and procedures to protect children has to be judged in the context of how much information they knew,” Pfau asserted. “They can’t say they didn’t understand that single men are identifying Scouting as a means to gain access to children.”

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