5 men file sex abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts, Mormon church

Stock photo | St. George News

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Five men who say they were sexually abused as kids while in the Boy Scouts of America are suing the organization and the Mormon church because they say both groups fraudulently presented the Boy Scouts as a safe, wholesome activity for boys.

The men filed the lawsuit Monday in Boise’s U.S. District Court. They contend that the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knew that there were child molesters in the Boy Scouts, but they covered up the danger instead of letting parents and children know about the risk.

LDS church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a prepared statement, “We have only recently learned about this legal action, and will take time to understand it fully and to respond as appropriate.”

The Boy Scouts of America said in a prepared statement that the behavior included in the allegations is abhorrent, and that the organization has strengthened its efforts to protect youth in the years since the abuse occurred.

Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members. The BSA is outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families,” the Boy Scouts wrote in the statement.

The attorneys bringing the lawsuit are Gilion Dumas and Ashley Vaughn of Portland, Oregon, and Andrew Chasan and Timothy Walton of Boise, Idaho. The attorneys have represented several other men who brought an earlier lawsuit against the Boy Scouts and the LDS church over sexual abuse.

As in the earlier lawsuit, the attorneys contend that the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, kept files on Scoutmasters accused of sexual misconduct, but it didn’t reveal that information to parents, volunteers or others. The attorneys also contend that church officials also knew that there was a problem with child molesters in Idaho troops, but intentionally kept that secret from families and law enforcement agencies.

The Boy Scouts “engaged in a decades-long public relations campaign to represent to the government, the public, and the Scouting community, including Plaintiffs and their families, that Scouting was a safe and morally upright program that was physically, emotionally, and spiritually beneficial for boys,” the attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “Defendants additionally represented that the adult Scout leaders, who were their agents, were appropriate and trustworthy mentors and leaders for young boys.”

The LDS church did the same, the plaintiffs contend.

“For example, in 1978, the president of the LDS church said that, ‘This (BSA) is not an optional program … Scouting is no longer on trial. It is an economically, socially, and spiritually sound program,’ ” the attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

All five of the men were in troops in the Boise or Lewiston regions. Vaughn said the men hope other witnesses or victims of abuse will come forward with information as well.

In the lawsuit, the men all describe being abused while camping or participating in other Boy Scouts events. One of the scout leaders, Lawrence Libey, was an assistant scoutmaster of a troop in Lewiston in 1968 and 1969, according to the lawsuit.

Libey, who is now deceased, had a boy sleep with him in his tent, alone, while on a camping trip. The troop leader didn’t approve and complained to the board of the Lewiston Elks Lodge, which was sponsoring the troop. But a short time later, Libey became the only scoutmaster of the troop, according to the lawsuit, and repeatedly sexually abused one of the plaintiffs and another boy.

Libey was later convicted of sex abuse in 1998.

Written by REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • comments May 1, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    So we’re going all the way back to the 1960s? I think they’re just mining for gold. I’d side with the LDS inc. and BSA on this one.

  • desertgirl May 2, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Back to the 1960s? This isn’t about abuse.

  • Lastdays May 2, 2017 at 7:27 am

    The LDS church and the BSA have always expressed a desire for all adults and leaders to be law abiding citizens when involved with youth activities.
    The LDS church also teaches Agency. or the right of each individual to have choice or make their own decisions. But with every choice, consequences will follow whether good or bad.
    So if the LDS church and the BSA have volunteer leaders who break the law and have sex with the youth, then that particular individual should 100% responsible and NOT the church or the BSA.
    How can any organization force morality on an individual ??

    • ladybugavenger May 2, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Just like a job that an employee discriminates someone and there’s a law suit .the company pays for it, don’t they?

      • ladybugavenger May 2, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Or a teacher that has sex with a student- you sue everyone you can- including the school

  • Brian May 2, 2017 at 10:51 am

    This lawsuit is about one thing: money. They know they don’t have a case (they may have 49 years ago when this happened, or even 40 years ago, but now?). But they also know they’ll be able to settle for $$$ by raising a stink.

    The reality is the BSA and the LDS church are both very proactive on this front, and have been increasingly for the last 20 years.

    Watch the news: Your son is WAY more likely to end up having sex with his female school teacher than he is to be molested by a Scout leader. Almost all of the Scout molestation news stories I’ve seen in the last few years are from things that happened 20 years ago, but all of the school teacher related stories are current, and they are as likely to involve a female teacher as a male teacher.

    The world (and the BSA) have changed. This lawsuit is about money, and on that front it will probably succeed, but otherwise its time has passed.

    • ladybugavenger May 2, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      The lasting affects of molestation doesn’t ever go away, not in 20 or 40 years….the victim can never get that out of their head and relive it over and over…..LDS church and BSA should pay!

  • theone May 2, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Totally fascinating how all of you can give the church a pass on this. It is abuse of the worst kind and time does not make it better. Both the BSA and LDS were and are responsible for putting these people in place, then they allegedly (actually) cover it up. Tell me how they didn’t fail these men when they were children……..
    And if you think for a minute they are really not covering for current abuses, then you are the problem as well. Big organizations cover up their dirty laundry all in the name of the all mighty $$$$$$$. I hope this costs the BSA and the LDS millions!!!!

    • comments May 2, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Problem is you can’t substantiate the claims in court when that much time has passed. So many of the victimizers, victims, and other witness would actually be dead. If they’ve got solid documentary evidence that LDS inc covered it up then they might have a shot, but even the leadership of the church from that era (60s) are all dead. If it had at least been the 80’s they might have a shot with some witnesses, otherwise they might just as well try to sue the catholics. Their money is just as green.

      Real paper documented evidence of a cover-up is whats needed. They had that in many cases when the catholics were sued.

      • theone May 3, 2017 at 9:23 am

        It stands to reason they wouldn’t have bothered to file a law suit if they didn’t have a shot, or sufficient evidence to go forward.
        We know one person was convicted for those crimes, so I have to think the law suit is valid and the church will pay.

    • Brian May 3, 2017 at 10:57 am

      No one is giving the BSA or the LDS church a pass on this.

      But for the LDS church to be held responsible it has to be proven the problem was institutional. The Catholic church got into trouble (rightly so) because it was verifiable and documented that the problem was institutional. Many layers of leadership way up the food chain knew the problem existed, knew it was being covered up, knew the offenders were just being transferred to a different location, knew the problems were continuing and it was happening again and again, in some cases over decades with the same individual.

      That is very different from a single bishop somewhere covering up for his friend the scoutmaster, in which those two individuals should be prosecuted and the problem wasn’t institutional.

      If a school district is doing everything in it’s power to protect students, when accusations are thoroughly investigated, when offenders are reported and fired, when the police are involved and their is transparency, should the district still be sued? No! And if they are the lawsuit is misguided and frivolous.

      On the other hand, if the school district has no clear policies and procedures for protection, is lax in their standards, covers things up, isn’t transparent, doesn’t involve the police, or any combination of these, then yes, they are responsible and should be sued.

      The LDS church hasn’t been perfect on this, but they have been ahead of the curve when compared to other churches or organizations. They’ve been very proactive in this, and are incredibly stringent now. If there is an issue at all now we have an 800 number we call and report it, and it’s out of our hands. The police are involved and professionals that are disconnected from the situation come in and question those involved, making sure victims are protected and there is zero chance of someone in local leadership sweeping things under the rug. I’ve been involved in leadership at the ward, stake, and BSA district level and can tell you the procedures in place are very good.

      Yes, it was different 49 years ago, but that was 49 years ago. I feel bad for the victims involved, and their families, and what they’ve gone through and probably continue to go through. But suing after 49 years and the offender is dead and everyone involved at every level is either gone or in their 80’s and 90’s is RIDICULOUS. The trail is cold. That ship has sailed. And if they think they’re just doing it to save someone else from the same fate they’re still 20 or 30 years too late. The policies are in place. The current system is very good.

      • comments May 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        pretty much what i said but more detailed 😉

  • Proud Rebel May 2, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    First off, I don’t think anyone is “giving a pass” to any organization or religion where the leadership has covered up abuse by people who had positions of power over youth. Whether it be The Catholic Church, The LDS Church, The BSA, or the schools. These crimes are egregious enough on their own. But to have “higher ups” in the organizations cover them up and even shield the criminals perpetrating these acts, is totally unforgivable, and is actually worse than the original crimes!
    I say that because according to all the bleeding heart “experts” the pedophile can’t help it. I think that is a line of crap, myself, but that’s what the shrinks say…
    Anyway, the people covering this stuff up, only do it to “protect the reputation” of the organization. In other words, the reputation is more important than the kids!
    There’s gotta be a special place in hell for these folks.

  • Defhed May 2, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Am I missing something? This troop was sponsored by The Elks Lodge. How is a church envolved? Deeper pockets maybe? No money in The Elks Lodge? Reread the article PLEASE!

  • theone May 3, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Having a (800) number to call is the first red flag for so called protection, the first thing one should do is call the police period! You make claims of absolute when I doubt you have the slightest clue as to how far up the chain anything goes. Your top leadership are all in their advanced days including 80s and 90s running the organization, so your idea that age is too ridiculous to be involved is moot. I respect your defending the church you belong to, but if they’re culpable it will be known. Right now only those directly involved know. Yes a school district should and is held accountable because they’re responsible for overseeing staff with or without protections in place. You have a fuzzy field of exemptions my friend.

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