Lawsuit seeks to establish DC as venue for sex abuse accusations against Boy Scouts

Lawsuit seeks to establish DC as venue for sex abuse accusations against Boy Scouts

Lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday in an attempt to establish Washington, D.C., as the venue for sex abuse accusations against the Boy Scouts of America.

The suit, if successful, could allow men who want to file charges against scoutmasters and other leaders who abused them in their youth to do so even if the statute of limitations has expired in their state, The Associated Press reported. Eight plaintiffs, labeled as John Does 1 through 8, are participating in the lawsuit because the statute of limitations had expired in their respective states. 

The lawyers from Zuckerman Spaeder, who are managing the suit, are arguing D.C. should be the venue because the organization was originally incorporated in the city in 1910, and D.C., like several states, relaxed its statute of limitations last year, according to the AP.

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The firm is associated with Abused in Scouting, a legal team gathering hundreds of clients across the country to file sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts. 

The lawsuit alleges the organization knew the group appealed to pedophiles, kept secret files of men known or suspected of sexual abuse and never mentioned the concerns in its annual reports to Congress, according to the AP.

The plaintiffs associated with the suit are from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. 

Carl Kravitz, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder, said in a statement to The Hill that the lawsuit is "important...to hold BSA responsible for the decades of alleged misconduct enabling and covering up wide-spread abuse in the Boy Scouts."
 
"Plaintiffs believe that the Court should apply DC’s window statute to their claims against BSA and provide a place for them to be compensated," Kravitz said. "Their access to a forum for their claims should not turn on the happenstance that they were abused as children in a state without a window statute."

The suit requests compensatory damages for physical and emotional injuries in addition to punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

The Boy Scouts in an email to The Hill did not comment on the lawsuit but restated a previous apology to victims “harmed during their time in Scouting.” 

“The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting,” the statement said.

The group has reportedly said it’s exploring “all options available” for compensation and has not ruled out bankruptcy, according to the news wire.