June 5, 2017
Portland, OR –
A member of the media who was asked to report on sexual abuse in Scouting has decided to come forward about his own experience as a victim of sexual abuse as a Boy Scout.
The victim – identified in today’s case as “Michael Doe” — has helped cover the news for a national media outlet for nearly 20 years. In recent years, he was asked to assist on stories about the pervasive problem of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. It was then that Michael Doe came face to face with the Boy Scout’s secret “Perversion Files” – internal files kept by the Boy Scouts since the 1920s about Scout Leaders reported for sexually abusing boy scouts.
“I went to a press conference and saw all the boxes of these hundreds and hundreds of files – each one about a different Scout Leader who had been reported for abusing boys. And seeing all of those files, something happened. I was devastated seeing those boxes that represented the suffering of so many boys. All of the sudden, I knew I couldn’t stay silent anymore about what I had experienced as a boy scout. I started therapy and eventually realized I needed to do something about this,” Michael Doe said.
Michael Doe’s lawsuit – filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court — names as Defendants the national Boy Scouts of America (headquartered in Texas) and its local branch, the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Michael Doe’s lawsuit alleges that “in or around 1963,” when Michael Doe was about 10 years old, he joined a Scout Troop in Southeast Portland led by a Scoutmaster named “Booth.” The Troop met at the Lynch School, near the Centennial neighborhood, and would go on camping and hiking trips, including to Eagle Creek Campground in the Columbia River Gorge and to Old Maid Flats Trail near Mt. Hood.
But Michael Doe says that Scoutmaster Booth used the Troop’s camping, hiking, and other scouting activities to gain access to boys and sexually abuse Michael Doe. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Scoutmaster Booth sexually abused Michael Doe on multiple occasions, including “fondling, masturbation, sexual assault and battery, and attempted oral sodomy.” The lawsuit asks for monetary damages for the emotional pain and suffering that Michael Doe has suffered, including “anxiety, shame, humiliation, [and] depression,” amongst other symptoms. The lawsuit also gives notice of Michael Doe’s intent to seek punitive damages against the Scouts.
The victim — Michael Doe — is represented by Portland law firm Crew Janci LLP, which is well known for representing victims of sexual abuse against the Boy Scouts and other large institutions in sexual abuse cases around the country, including cases against the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and elite private schools. With them as a co-counsel on this case is Portland attorney Hollis McMilan.
Today’s lawsuit alleges claims of negligence and fraud against the Boy Scouts, based on the allegation that “from at least 1935, if not earlier, Defendants knew that Scout Leader positions were being used by predatory child molesters to victimize children, and that [Boy Scout] Defendants had an institution-wide or systemic child abuse problem.” According to lawyers for the victims, those allegations are based largely upon the cache of secret “ineligible volunteer” files which were obtained from the Scouts in the 2010 Portland trial in the case of Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts. That case resulted in a $19.9 million verdict for the plaintiff, and spurred the public release of more than 1,200 of the Scouts’ secret files on scout leaders accused of child sexual abuse.
Recent media reports have highlighted a continuing effort by the Boy Scouts of America to avoid disclosure of documents about sexual abuse in Scouting.
“Our client wants to do his part to put pressure on the Boy Scouts to release information about Boy Scout leaders who were credibly accused of abuse,” said victim’s attorney Peter Janci. “We know there are more than 2,000 secret files from the 1990s and 2000s that the Boy Scouts have still never publicly released. Each one represents a Scout Leader reported for child sexual abuse — many of those individuals were never reported to police and may still be in the community, abusing children today,” said Janci. “It is unacceptable for the Boy Scouts to continue to keep information about this danger to children a secret.”
“Our client started out on a news assignment to inform other people about sexual abuse in Scouting. In some ways, this lawsuit is another way of continuing that mission,” said Hollis McMilan, one of the attorneys for the victim.
Attorneys for the victim explained that Michael Doe – like many victims of child sexual abuse – engaged in common defense mechanisms and avoidance behaviors, including substance abuse, which helped him avoid thinking about the abuse for many years.
“The Plaintiff in today’s lawsuit is the first known boy scout to step forward and speak up about the abuse by Scoutmaster Booth,” said victim’s attorney Stephen Crew. “But we believe there are likely other victims out there. We would ask anyone with information to come forward and know that they will be believed. It’s time for the truth to come out,” said Crew. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the victims’ attorneys through their website or by telephone at: 1-888-407-0224.
Victims in Oregon are allowed a longer period to seek justice under the state’s extended statute of limitations on civil cases for child sexual abuse. Oregon’s statute of limitations (ORS 12.117) allows victims to come forward until they are at least 40 years old, and in many instances, later — depending upon when the victim comes to understand the impact the abuse has had on his or her adult life. Many states around the country are currently considering amendments to allow for an extension of the civil statute of limitations time period. Some states have eliminated the statute of limitations all together.
Read today’s lawsuit here: Complaint.
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.