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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Boy Scouts of America and New Laws Affecting Sexual Abuse Victims

     Men who as minors were sexually abused by members of powerful institutions like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America have been unable to successfully sue these organizations because of the passage of time and civil procedural laws that prohibit bringing old cases in the same way statutes of limitations prohibit criminal charges after a certain number of years have passed since the alleged crimes. For thousands of men abused years ago by priests and boy scout leaders, things have changed for the better due to state legislatures and court decisions that have legally opened the door to such lawsuits.

     In New York state for example, a new law gives sex abuse plaintiffs a one year window in which to bring cases once barred by the passage of time.

     In Pennsylvania, an appeals court ruled that the state's statute of limitations can be set aside if the sex abuse victim can prove that the sexual assaults were concealed by fraud.

     These changes in civil procedural law are particularly bad news for the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America, organizations that for decades used these passage of time restrictions to protect themselves and pedophiles in their midst.

     Civil court settlements related to the well-documented pedophile problem in the Catholic Church have led to several diocese filing for bankruptcy. Now even more Catholic Churches will close.

     Numerous studies show that since 1916, more than a million boys have been sexually abused by Boy Scout Leaders. These victims were without legal remedies because the men who violated them, due to passage of time restrictions, could not be sued or prosecuted. Now the organization is facing a potential financial crisis involving tens of millions of dollars in civil settlements and damages. This could lead to the organization's bankruptcy. And it's about time.

     The Boy Scouts of American is in serious trouble because its leaders, for decades, refused to weed out its pedophiles. Institutions and organizations that protect sexual predators are a huge part of the problem and do not deserve to exist. It's just a shame politicians, spiritual leaders, lawmakers and judges have done so little to protect our children.

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