Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Boy Scouts Sued for Sex Abuse

Posted on Tue, Jul 10, 2007 at 4:00 AM

A former Idaho resident has filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Ore-Ida Council of the Boy Scouts alleging the organizations did not do enough to protect him, and other scouts, from sexual abuse by a known abuser.

The suit, filed Monday in Ada County, is the first to take advantage of a change in state law that lengthens the statue of limitations for reporting childhood sexual abuse. As of July 1, victims have five years from the discovery that prior abuse has caused harm to file charges. Previously, victims had five years from the time they turned 18.

In the suit, Ron Morgan, who now lives in Mesa, Ariz., and an unnamed Idaho man charge that they were both abused by former Scout leader James Schmidt between the late 1970s and early 1980s. The charge that the Boy Scouts leaders knew of the alleged abuse through parental complaints as early as 1979, but they allowed Schmidt to remain in his position until 1983.

Schmidt was arrested in 1983 after police interview with 16 scouts, and sentenced to treatment for “severe pedophilia” at John Hopkins Hospital. Schmidt is a registered sex offender living in Maryland.

“Every time a victim comes forward, children are safer,” said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday morning, Morgan said he was nervous to step forward, but wanted to hold the Boy Scouts accountable for its lack of action. He said he hopes the case will hold organizations that deal with children to “a higher standard of protection and accountability.”

Andrew Chasan, Morgan’s Boise-based attorney, called the change in Idaho law “visionary,” adding that it allows victims the time needed to deal with the emotional trauma of abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America have yet to receive the suit.

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