As a suit containing allegations of sexual abuse was filed in Cascade County District Court on behalf of 10 more former Montana Boy Scouts on Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement regarding the deluge of litigation faced by both the national organization and its individual state councils.
The suits are allowed under a 2019 Montana law that extended the time during which people can sue entities that should have known about child sexual abuse and allegedly failed to report it.
“First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting,” the statement read. “We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward.”
Other states, including California, New Jersey and New York, also have currently active windows allowing victims to file suit no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.
Montana’s one-year “lookback window” closed Wednesday.
Court documents allege a pattern of sexual abuse by scout leaders, volunteers and participants going back decades and claim that BSA had knowledge of the predatory behavior and failed to adequately prevent or investigate it.
The latest suit, brought by the AVA Law Group out of Billings, was filed in conjunction with Abused in Scouting, a consortium of law firms from across the country that banded together to represent former Boy Scout participants who were victims of alleged sexual abuse.
The plaintiffs range in age from approximately 43 to 81 years old and hail from cities across Montana. Their claims of abuse vary from inappropriate touching to rape, but the majority have one thing in common: they were not one-time incidents.
A summary of the claims is as follows:
- Plaintiff 1: Libby. 1975. Age 12. Alleged sexual abuse 30-40 times over 2 years by assistant scout leader John McBride.
- Plaintiff 2: Babb. 1971. Age 10. Alleged sexual abuse by Scoutmaster Calmer (first name unknown) and two senior scouts, one of whom was the Scoutmaster’s son, John. Alleged perpetrators took nude photos of the victim and used them to blackmail him for money.
- Plaintiff 3: Great Falls. 1973. Age 11. Alleged sexual abuse and rape by assistant scout leader Mack McMasters on multiple occasions in McMasters’ home.
- Plaintiff 4: Helena. 1976. Age 16. Alleged sexual abuse by scoutmaster Ralph Tobol for two years at Tobol’s private cabin in Lincoln.
- Plaintiff 5: Black Eagle. 1970. Age 12. Alleged sexual abuse by assistant scout leader Roger Maddox over a period of two years.
- Plaintiff 6: Hamilton. 1968. Age 12. Alleged sexual abuse by assistant scout leader Clarence Conroy over a period of four years, including the distribution of pornographic materials to scouts during a camping trip.
- Plaintiff 7: Sidney. 1961. Age 8. Alleged sexual abuse and rape over a period of two years by an unnamed group of senior scouts.
- Plaintiff 8: Glasgow. 1960. Age 11. Alleged sexual abuse by an unnamed scout leader during an overnight camping trip in Fort Peck.
- Plaintiff 9: Missoula. 1946. Age 12. Alleged sexual abuse by an unnamed scoutmaster at the man’s home.
- Plaintiff 10: Forsyth. 1983. Age 6. Alleged sexual abuse and rape by scout leader Al Cagan over a period of approximately 5 years.
In each case, court documents describe the effects of the incidents on the claimants, such as substance abuse, divorce, inability to maintain relationships, PTSD, incarceration, suicidality and decades of therapy for mental health issues.
The suit also mentions the BSA’s secret “perversion files” that contained internal concerns about its volunteers’ sexual behavior, some of which were substantiated by court proceedings.
“Throughout its history, the BSA has consistently held itself out to the public as a ‘moral and safe’ environment for boys to participate in healthy outdoor activities and to be given proper guidance and instruction,” the claim stated. “Its own records demonstrate that both the BSA and the Boy Scouts of America Montana Council has long known that scouting attracts pedophiles in large numbers and that scouts, far from being safe, are at heightened risk of sexual abuse by child molesters.”
BSA stated its policy is that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement, and anyone accused of inappropriate behavior is immediately removed from contact with participants.
The national Boy Scouts corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February