New Montana Sex Abuse Bill Would Aid Boy Scout Sex Abuse Survivors
The 2019 Montana legislative bill, HB 640, would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal cases and extend the the time frame for which a victim can sue for civil sexual abuse. The proposed bill helps sex abuse survivors, particularly those affected by Boy Scouts of America in Montana, by allowing them to bring claims that otherwise would have been prohibited.
Incomprehensibly, the Boy Scouts of America has a well-documented 100-year-old problem with child sexual abuse in Scouting. Since the 1910s, the Boy Scouts of America has known that sexual predators use positions of trust (like Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster) to sexually abuse children in Scouting. By 1920, the BSA established a “red flag” system used in part to identify adult volunteers prone to molest scouts. This red flag system became known as “Ineligible Volunteer Files” (IV files or “perversion files”). Despite BSA’s acknowledgement of pedophiles, the organization did not prevent predators from having access to Boy Scouts. In fact, BSA sometimes knowingly allowed known pedophiles to continue working with boys in Scouting under a secret internal policy they called “probation.” Scouts in Montana were not immune from this abuse.
Perversion Files exist for several Scoutmasters involved with Scout Troops in Montana:
- Secret files exist — The Scouts have kept private records of suspected child abusers, unwilling to make that information public.
- More former leaders were involved in sexually abusing children than originally believed. The Boy Scouts have identified 7,800 former leaders who were involved in sexually abusing children.
- IV files for Montana Scoutmasters begin in 1962 and continue with IV files as recent as 2001.
- There are problems related to liability — Last year, the Scouts sued six of their insurers due to alleged improper coverage. Meanwhile, those insurers continue to defend their actions because the Scouts failed to warn parents about the possibility of abuse during scouting involvement.
- The scouts may face bankruptcy — Considering the amount of money a class-action lawsuit would involve, questions remain about the likelihood of financial resilience following pending litigation.
- Time is of the essence — HB 640 extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims but this extension is not indefinite.
In 2017 and 2018, the Edmiston & Colton Law Firm worked closely with the law firm of Crew Janci, LLP, the national law firm involved in the landmark case Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America which brought the Ineligible Volunteer Files to light and resulted in a $19 M verdict. In Montana, the Edmiston & Colton Law Firm along with Crew Janci LLP held the Boy Scouts of America responsible for their lack of action in preventing sexual abuse to Montana boy scouts. The Edmiston & Colton Law Firm has a longstanding commitment to helping Boy Scout victims of sexual abuse. In addition, the Edmiston & Colton Law Firm is one of the only firms in Montana with experience and knowledge of the BSA to handle these cases.
The attorneys at Edmiston & Colton Law Firm are now exploring new legal action against the Boy Scouts of America for abuse victims previously ineligible because of Montana’s statute of limitations and the latest nationwide report of widespread sexual abuse.
If you or a loved one were abused by a Scoutmaster or another BSA volunteer or employee, please know that you are not to blame. The Boy Scout leaders took advantage of their power and preyed on innocent victims. You shouldn’t have to carry the burden of the consequences for a lifetime. Please contact the attorneys at Edmiston & Colton Law Firm to learn more. Please visit Edmiston & Colton Law firm at www.yellowstonelaw.com or call (406) 259-9986.
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