A Boy Scout wears an Eagle Scot neckerchief.
Eric Gay | AP
A lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts of America says nearly 800 men have come forward in recent months with new allegations of sexual abuse against the organization spanning decades and reaching into nearly every state in the country.
The suit was filed Monday by a group of law firms on behalf of client “S.D.,” who alleges he was assaulted “hundreds” of times by a scout leader in Pennsylvania, suffering profound “physical, emotional and psychological harm.”
Lawyers say hundreds of others have come forward.
The Boy Scouts of America over the years have faced multiple allegations of sexual abuse and were ordered in 2010 to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages resulting from a lawsuit. But this new complaint shows the unprecedented scale of the alleged abuse.
For the past 70 years, Boy Scouts has maintained so-called ineligible volunteer files, that documented pedophiles known to the organization.
The suit names the Boy Scouts, the Penn Mountains Council, and S.D.’s alleged abuser, Paul Antosh, and was filed in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.
The lawsuit states that the BSA should have known that scouting would “attract pedophiles” because the organization provides access to boys who are away from their parents in settings like campouts and overnight hikes.
“BSA knew for decades that sexual predators of boys had infiltrated scouting,” the complaints states. It also claims that the Boy Scouts “should have known the dangers that pedophiles presented to boy scouts… but instead ignored that danger and permitted him and other pedophiles in scouting to prey upon young boys, including minor S.D.”
The lawsuit also states that the defendant, Antosh, a BSA assistant scoutmaster, exercised a position of authority over S.D., and molested him in various ways: sexually, physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally at the Boy Scouts Camp Acahela in Pennsylvania.
Stewart Eisenberg, one of the lead lawyers in the case, told CNBC that he hopes this new lawsuit will force Congress to act and to hold the Boy Scouts accountable for their abuse against young men.
“There hasn’t been the attention that needs to be brought to the issue, it’s a widespread problem.” Eisenberg said. “It’s a problem where boys have been sexually abused and it’s difficult for men to come forward and break the silence and break their shame for what happened to them when they were children.”
“More attention has been placed on the Catholic Church and the religious organizations rather than scouting,” Eisenberg said. “We hope to bring attention to the issue and focus on the victims who have suffered all these years.”
The Boy Scouts of America said in an email: “We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.”