A monumental child sex abuse report was released this week detailing decades of abuse by the Boy Scouts of America organization. Allegations chronicle years of abuse on the part of scout leaders, and a poor and often negligent sexual abuse reporting system on the part of the organization.
In fact, the Boys Scouts of America have been working very hard to keep this history of child sex abuse private. According to the New York Times, “Officials with the Boy Scouts fought in the courts for years to prevent the release of the documents — more than 15,000 pages detailing accusations of sexual abuse against 1,247 scout leaders between 1965 and 1985, with thousands of victims involved, perhaps many thousands — contending that fear of breached confidentiality could inhibit victims from reporting other instances of abuse.”
Dave Abels of Abels & Annes, P.C. recently commented on this contention about confidentiality: “I personally feel that’s a ridiculous argument, as the names of victims are not being released, and the release of these documents could encourage many victims to come forward. Often victims of abuse bury their issues for years due to embarrassment or other reasons. Victims are more likely to suffer from depression, are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to attempt to commit suicide.”
The Boy Scouts of America have issued an apology to victims and their parents this week, and the New York Times reports that child protection experts say that the efforts in recent years by the Boy Scouts to better track, report, and train youth leaders, and its humility in admitting failure, are all laudable steps. However, it is apparent that much more is needed by an organization that built its name and reputation on trust.
Child Sex Abuse Damages Can Last a Lifetime
The reality is that the effects of sexual abuse can differ depending on the child, ranging from dramatic behavioral changes to poor performance in school. As victims are well aware, these symptoms of past trauma can last a lifetime.
This is why the assistance of an attorney is critical, whether a victim or their family is seeking justice or pursuing compensation for a child’s suffering and physical and mental recovery. In addition in court representation, an attorney will often employ psychologists to interview and evaluate the victim, which helps to establish if sexual abuse actually took place, and it also provides an idea about potential damages.
In addition, many families do not realize that potential defendants can include churches, schools and day care centers in addition to the actual abuser. This is because these companies and organizations may be responsible for:
- The unsafe conditions that led to abuse
- Insufficient background checks
- Poor hiring practices
All of these conditions constitute neglect, which may have led to the abuse. Defendants may also include hospitals and nursing homes where insufficient safety practices led to abuse.
At the very least, the release of the Boy Scout files will draw awareness to child sex abuse, which is a chronically underreported issue, as victims are hesitance to come forward.
Abels & Annes, P.C. is currently working on several high-profile sexual abuse cases in the Chicago area. If you or a loved one have an issue to discuss regarding a child sex abuse case or any other type of sexual abuse case, contact us today to request a Free Confidential Sexual Abuse Consultation.