Lawsuit Claims Boy Scouts Failed To Protect Scout From Sexual Abuse
A lawsuit filed in August in federal court claims that Boy Scouts of America failed to protect a scout from sexual abuse when he was 15 years old.
The lawsuit claims that convicted felon Francis McCourt took nude photos of the boy, molested his genitals, forced him to touch his genitals and forced him to engage in oral sex “on at least three different occasions.”
McCourt has previously been sentenced to 35 years in prison for distributing, possessing and viewing child pornography.
The lawsuit claims that McCourt engaged in “grooming” by befriending the boy and his family, gaining their trust and confidence and gaining his parents’ permission to spend time alone with the boy, conditioning the boy to trust him, comply with his instructions and respect him as an authority.
The lawsuit claims that the Westark Area Council “had knowledge that McCourt had groomed and assaulted boy scouts while acting as Scout leader.”
The council “knew or should have known that child molesters like McCourt were using Scouting to gain access to and gain the trust of Scouts… in order to molest them,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit notes that BSA has been receiving reports of child molestation from its local councils since 1920, noting the existence of the now notorious “perversion files.”
The council’s “knowing failure to warn, implement child abuse policies, or change screening or monitoring procedures created a foreseeable risk of harm to the safety of children,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the hiring, training and supervision of McCourt were negligent, claiming that no background check or investigation of character were done on McCourt before appointing him as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and that no oversight of his activities was provided.
The lawsuit argues that BSA and the council had a “special relationship” with the boy which created a duty to protect the boy from harm, a duty which included warning the boy of dangers and risks and protecting the boy while he participated in scouting. The lawsuit claims this duty was breached because the boy and his parents were never warned of the risk of sexual abuse in scouting, and because no procedures preventing McCourt from isolating and abusing the boy were ever implemented.
“Defendant failed to take such actions even though Defendant knew to a moral certainty that such failures would reasonably lead to youths being sexually abused by adult Scout leaders while participating in Scouting,” the lawsuit states.