The suit, filed late Monday, claims the BSA has continually covered up a “pedophilia epidemic within their organization.” At a Tuesday press conference to discuss the lawsuit, attorneys said they have identified nearly 800 men from across the country who have accused at least 350 previously unknown scoutmasters and volunteers of sexual abuse. The accusations range from groping to rape.
“It’s the largest pedophile ring on earth,” attorney Tim Kosnoff said on Tuesday. “The numbers we’re talking about now dwarf what we’ve seen in the Catholic Church cases.”
The lawsuit claims that those 350 new abusers do not appear in the Boy Scouts’ disciplinary files, also known as the “perversion files,” which were published in 2012 and listed alleged abusers in the BSA organization. The accused include police officers, teachers, members of the military, doctors, a mayor and a child psychologist.
Kosnoff, along with three other attorneys with the organization Abused in Scouting, said Tuesday that the newly discovered victims range in age from 14 to 88 years old and live across the country.
“We know that when a pedophile abuses a victim, it’s not just one,” attorney Stewart Eisenberg said. “So each of the 350 abusers have dozens of other victims who have not come forward.”
Kosnoff added that of the 800 alleged victims, only four named the same abuser.
“The recipe is there for an abuser to take advantage of boys alone out in the woods at night, at their homes, at their apartments,” Eisenberg said. “Many of the boys have reported drugs and alcohol being given to them when they were minors. This abuse is baked into the culture.”
The lawsuit was filed by a victim, identified only as “S.D.,” in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas. The defendants listed include the BSA national organization and the BSA Penn Mountains Council in Kingston, Pennsylvania, where S.D. said he was abused. The complaint also lists S.D.’s alleged abuser Paul Antosh, a BSA assistant scoutmaster.
S.D. alleged he was sexually abused hundreds of times by Antosh and suffered “physical, emotional and psychological harm” at the hands of the assistant scoutmaster.
“BSA knew for decades that sexual predators of boys had infiltrated scouting,” the lawsuit states, adding that the Boy Scouts “should have known the dangers that pedophiles presented to boy scouts … but instead ignored that danger and permitted [Antosh] and other pedophiles in scouting to prey upon young boys.”
The victim is seeking $50,000 in damages from the BSA and his alleged abuser.
Asked by NBC News whether the allegations are true, Antosh replied Tuesday, “I’m in the process of hiring counsel.”
Boy Scouts of America responded to the lawsuit in a statement to HuffPost, writing that the organization cares “deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.”
“We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward,” the statement reads.
The organization said it’s working with law enforcement across the country to open up investigations into each claim of abuse.
“We immediately investigated the limited information provided and our efforts have already resulted in approximately 120 reports to the lead law enforcement agency in each state with an accusation of abuse,” the organization said. “We have also contacted local law enforcement for all the cases in which enough information was provided to identify the correct agency.”