HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A group of lawyers has filed a lawsuit accusing Boy Scouts of America leaders of sexual abuse.
The lawsuit filed was filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of a 57-year-old Luzerne County man who allegedly was abused by a scout leader on multiple occasions.
“This individual has the courage to come forward and start this process,” said Stewart Eisenberg, an attorney on the case.
In February, three law firms formed a group called Abuse In Scouting. Since then, they have been contacted by 800 men nationwide, roughly 40 from Pennsylvania, with allegations of sexual abuse.
“There is a crisis in the Boy Scouts for many decades, in fact, since the early 1900s, and that crisis is the abuse, the sexual abuse, that boys have suffered at the hands of scout leaders, assistant scout leaders, and people that they looked up to,” said Eisenberg.
The lawsuit states that lawyers believe they have turned up allegations of sexual abuse against more than 350 people not previously identified in filings by the organization. The Boy Scouts of America says it has referred about 120 allegations of abuse by scout leaders to law enforcement for further information.
The youth organization said in a statement that it believes victims and is working to identify more possible perpetrators.
A victim’s advocate says abusers oftentimes are in a leadership role.
“They are people who may come in and ingratiate themselves and gain trust, and then we let our guard down and they take advantage of that and exploit that trust,” said Joyce Lukima, of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.