A lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts of America accuses the national organization and an Arkansas chapter of negligence in failing to keep a leader from sexually abusing a boy.
Wednesday’s lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court argues that a pattern of secluded settings and the conditioning of boys to strictly obey leaders led to manipulation and posed a danger to those in the scouting program.
A leader who served as scoutmaster for Troop 16 and its affiliated Webelos Unit 13, both in Hot Springs, is named in the suit against the Boy Scouts and its Quapaw Area Council but not listed as a defendant.
The leader had a history of sexual abuse before being placed in that role, the lawsuit argues. He had been reported to the Boy Scouts for reportedly abusing boys while serving as a scout leader in Georgia, the complaint states.
Attorneys for the plaintiff say the scoutmaster “befriended” him, gained his trust and sexually abused him between the ages of 10 and 12.
Records show the reported sexual abuse happened on about eight occasions between 1979 and 1980.
“The abuse occurred during Scouting-related meetings, events, outings and overnight excursions,” the lawsuit states, adding that much of the abuse happened in or around Hot Springs.
The plaintiff argued that the reported sexual misconduct was “foreseeable” to the Boy Scouts and that the organization “knew for decades … that sexual predators of boys were continually infiltrating scouting and using the scouting program.”
The plaintiff “has suffered and will continue to suffer great pain of mind and body” as a result of the sexual abuse, his attorneys said.
According to court filings, the plaintiff did not know the organization kept on the accused leader until recently, when a secret internal “perversion file” was discovered online.
“The information contained in the file was intentionally keep hidden from the world by BSA and it would have been impossible for [the plaintiff] to reasonably have discovered this information through a diligent search,” the suit argues.
He is reportedly seeking a trial by jury.
Requests for comment from leaders of the Boy Scouts’ Quapaw Area Council were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.