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Boy Scouts of AmericaArticle from Albuquerque Journal

A former Boy Scout now in his late 40s says he was sexually abused by his Scoutmaster at a camp near Cloudcroft in the 1980s, according to a lawsuit filed this month in state District Court.

The personal injury suit alleges that Mike Kessler, who is now deceased, operated a troop in Abilene, Texas. The suit alleges that the Scoutmaster “gained the trust and confidence” of the boy, and even “became a father figure” to him.

The lawsuit says the man sexually abused and molested the Scout “for several years” and also says he attempted “intercourse” during a 1982 trip to Camp Dale Resler in southern New Mexico.

Levi Monagle, the attorney representing the former Scout, said the abuse continued in Abilene.

Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that it could not discuss ongoing litigation, but that the allegations contained in the suit run counter to everything for which the organization stands.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members and we are profoundly saddened when anyone uses their position to harm children,” the statement explains. “The Boy Scouts of America extends its deepest sympathies to any person who has been hurt by child sexual abuse.”

The lawsuit argues that the organization should have instructed the scoutmaster not to sleep in tents with unrelated boys, which “put scouts like plaintiff at unreasonable risk of being sexually abused.”

It says that BSA knew at the time that leadership positions “were being used by predatory child molesters to victimize children” and “knew or had reason to know” that the Scoutmaster had abused Scouts.

“It’s a very big organization, there were a lot of abusive Scout leaders,” Monagle said. “This guy was one of them.”

In its statement, BSA wrote that in the decades since “the incidents took place,” the organization has enhanced efforts to protect children. BSA said “any instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable.”

“When we were first made aware of these reports last year,” the statement explains, “we promptly reported the allegations to the local authorities as indicated in our youth protection program and offered assistance to the individual.”

The man, who is referred to as John Doe throughout the lawsuit, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He argues that he suffered severe emotional distress and has incurred costs for counseling and psychiatric medical treatment.

“Abuse of this sort at this adolescent stage is devastating for any child,” Monagle said. “They carry it with them for their whole lives.”

If you or someone you care about was sexually abused and you would like advice from an attorney about the rights and options for victims of child sexual abuse, please contact Crew Janci LLP today for a free, confidential consultation at 1-888-407-0224 or by using our private online form.  We will treat you with discretion and respect.

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Andria Seo

Andria Seo is an Associate Attorney at Crew Janci LLP. Andria is a graduate of the New York University School of Law. During law school, she worked with the National Center for Youth Law, the Legal Aid Society, and the NYCLU. Prior to joining the team at Crew Janci LLP, Andria advocated for vulnerable children and their families as a staff attorney at Partnership for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit based in New York City. Andria also previously worked assisting in the representation of victims of a terrorist attack in civil suits. Andria moved to Portland in 2016 and joined Crew Janci LLP in 2017. She is admitted to practice in Oregon and New York