Among the victims of child sex abuse who are hoping to finally get some justice thanks to New York’s Child Victims Act are former Boy Scouts. As soon as the law took effect last month, attorneys began filing suits on behalf of men who say they were assaulted by scout leaders as well as more senior scouts and others involved in the organization when they were boys.
Among the first to take legal action were eight plaintiffs who had lived in Erie and Albany counties. Some say they were just 11 years old when they were first molested as Boy Scouts.
Further, the men say that the Boy Scouts of America knew about the abuse that was occurring throughout the organization and even kept “perversion files” on thousands of people who had been accused of abuse. According to court documents, these files date back as far as 1944.
Another lawsuit involving the Greater New York Council names a former congressman from New York, Gary Ackerman, as the abuser. The plaintiff claims that Ackerman sexually assaulted him when he was working as the director of a Boy Scouts summer camp in the 1960s. The suit says Ackerman was 23 and the plaintiff was 17. The suit names the camp and the council as defendants, as well as the former lawmaker, who has denied the accusations.
The Boy Scouts of America says it has no record of any allegations made against Ackerman. It also claims that it has a “system established in the 1920s to bar individuals from Scouting who should not work with youth.” It goes on to say, “Had the National Organization been made aware of credible allegations against Mr. Ackerman, we would have acted to remove him from Scouting.”
An attorney for the plaintiffs in the Albany and Erie cases says, “Sexual predators and large institutions have attempted to hide heinous abuse for too long, and today, we can begin to heal the pain and suffering our clients in New York City have experienced over decades.”
The Child Victims Act gives victims of child sex abuse a year to sue those responsible for sexual abuse they suffered as children. It also increases the statute of limitations for other victims of child sex abuse. This new law can help victims, with the help of experienced attorneys, get the justice they deserve.