Intelligence Report: Legal grounds for abused Scouts

October 19, 2012 4:19:58 PM PDT
The Boy Scouts motto "Be Prepared" may now have to extend to lawsuits that could be filed after the release of so-called "Perversion Files."

Friday night though, it is unclear whether any of the victims in those cases from 20-or-more years ago would have any legal grounds to file suit or whether they are excluded because the cases are too old and outside what's known as the statute of limitations.

"I didn't think anything could happen out there," said abuse victim Keith Early.

Early was wrong.

After joining the Boy Scouts at age 12, newly released scout records show that Early was molested by the assistant scoutmaster who recruited him in Washington State.

There were criminal charges filed in that case against Nick Price Miller, a married father of three who is now in prison 10 years to life, convicted of abusing early and another boy.

"Just thinking about it makes me angry because how could you do that to somebody," Early said. "How could you do that to somebody who is so innocent and has done nothing wrong?"

Most of the sex abuse allegations in these files released yesterday occurred in the 1960's, 70's and 80's...including at least 70 in Illinois and dozens more in Indiana and Wisconsin.

While child sex abuse laws vary by state, tonight it seems unlikely that most if any of the newly released cases will result in either criminal charges or successful civil lawsuits brought by victims.

Even in Illinois, among the most victim-helpful states; that has a special statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse. They may take legal action and sue for damages up to ten years after the victim discovers it occurred.

In Indiana the general statute applies, requiring action to be brought within two years of any abuse...and Indiana law actually prohibits childhood sex abuse civil cases unless they are brought by age twenty.

Finally, Wisconsin is more typical of state laws. Child sex abuse claims are allowed by alleged victims but may be brought only within two years of reaching the age of majority, usually 18.

Illinois' statute of limitations can be extended beyond 10 years if the accuser was ever threatened or intimidated by the abuser. The clock stops during that period of time.

There will probably be another wave of Boy Scout files released-misconduct committed between 1985 and 2011-from a Texas lawsuit. A judge has already ruled that those files be made public but Boy Scout lawyers have appealed.

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