Although there were sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America in years prior, a particularly high-profile case in 2010 resulted in a flood of lawsuits following in the footsteps of this landmark case over the last few years.
Not only did the 2010 lawsuit win damages for the plaintiff, but it is also responsible for the release of confidential documents with the names of hundreds of victims and abusers. The plaintiff accused the organization of failing to take steps to stop the abuse by covering it up for years, according to Reuters.
The lawsuit had wide-reaching effects. Partly due to new emerging sexual abuse cases from the BSA and other institutions, some states decided to loosen their statutes of limitations in order to give victims the opportunity to claim compensation when they might have been out of time to do so ordinarily.
The 2010 case, and subsequent lawsuits, also triggered the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of the BSA after the organization was hit with mounting litigation and settlement costs.
Statutes of Limitations in Sexual Abuse Cases
Several states have recognized that existing statutes of limitations can make it difficult for victims of sexual abuse to hold perpetrators to account. Some states already had extended statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse cases specifically. Trauma can cause repression of memory, which contributes to abuse cases sometimes taking years to come to light, according to the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. Some children may not remember their own abuse until they are in therapy in adulthood, by which time it may be too late to file a claim.
After allegations of large-scale institutional sexual abuse came to light, several states have passed additional laws or suspended the applicable statutes of limitations for a time period. According to the Associated Press, 15 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have since 2018 extended or suspended their statutes of limitations governing child sexual abuse cases. Some of these states created so-called “look-back windows,” meaning victims can file a claim no matter how long ago the offense took place.
In many of these cases, victims are now able to file suits against their individual perpetrators as well as the institution that allegedly tolerated the abuse. While all state laws differ, many now help victims come forward, and in some instances, may increase the amounts of losses a victim could claim. California, for example, is proposing a tripling of certain damages for sexual abuse victims if a cover-up can be proven, according to the Associated Press.
If you have suffered sexual abuse in an institution such as the BSA, speaking to a sexual abuse lawyer can help you understand how to go about filing a claim.
Legal Help Is Available
Sexual abuse can have devastating long-term effects on the mental and physical health of victims. All too often, abuse goes unreported, and victims suffer in silence for years, dealing with the emotional and physical effects alone and without financial, medical, or psychological assistance. If you were abused by a scout leader or other official, you could receive compensation for your damages and your suffering.
Compensatory awards could include expenses for medical treatment and other costs incurred as a result of the abuse, for example. Acting quickly can be important as the BSA has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which could restrict you from claiming compensation. A deadline will be set for filing any claims against the organization, and filing before this deadline could be pivotal. Information about how you can hold the perpetrators to account is available, and we can offer you a free and confidential consultation in the first instance, so you can weigh your legal options. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444.
We work on a contingency-fee basis so that we can advocate for victims of sexual abuse. This means we can get to work on your potential case immediately and without the need for you to pay any fees upfront or out of pocket.