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Mormon church faces 7 new lawsuits for alleged Boy Scouts sex abuse cover-up in Arizona


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Reading through this article makes it obvious the journalist knows precious little about our religion; however, regardless of the writer's ignorance the simple fact is that the increasing ubiquity of these cases means nothing but trouble for the BSA. I have no doubt but that the church will weather these accusations as well as ever (we've endured far more calamitous calumny than this before), but BSA national? They have had their backs to the wall for too long already, and these cases will do far more damage to Scouting than they will to the church.

My heart goes out to the innumerable victims of these cases, but just as much, I feel for those who are the secondhand victims of their desperate search for justice, future casualties of a battle against a good organization that they are slowly destroying - children and youth who need the good which Scouting has to offer, but whose opportunities are being diluted and diverted by the endless litigation that, ultimately, will offer precious little peace to the victims of abuse, and little more than heartache to those trying to cull what vestiges of virtue they can from the BSA.

Nothing but sadness will result from all this. The Church will be fine; that's hardly in doubt. Scouting, however, looks to be in waters churning deeper by the moment. I want so much to be the optimist in these matters, but I worry that even my rose glasses won't be enough to distract from the writing on the wall. I only pray people will remember the virtues of mercy and wisdom in such troubled matters as these.

 

BONUS POST SCRIPT: It seems I have now made 1,000 posts on these forums since joining almost 5 years ago. My deepest thanks to all who have made this place such a crucial and delightful source of knowledge and direction throughout my Scouting career!

Edited by The Latin Scot
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5 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

My heart goes out to the innumerable victims of these cases, but just as much, I feel for those who are the secondhand victims of their desperate search for justice, future casualties of a battle against a good organization that they are slowly destroying - children and youth who need the good which Scouting has to offer, but whose opportunities are being diluted and diverted by the endless litigation that, ultimately, will offer precious little peace to the victims of abuse, and little more than heartache to those trying to cull what vestiges of virtue they can from the BSA.

The proposed solution for this by BSA National is to allow for the first time ever the elimination of COs and instead having units chartered by the local Council. The church/former CO agrees only to provide meeting space and nothing more.

It is my understanding one of the Catholic diocese in Texas has move to this model almost entirely.

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3 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

The proposed solution for this by BSA National is to allow for the first time ever the elimination of COs and instead having units chartered by the local Council. The church/former CO agrees only to provide meeting space and nothing more.

It is my understanding one of the Catholic diocese in Texas has move to this model almost entirely.

The more I think about this, the more I think I will advise our COR to recommend this to our CO.  The BSA already does (or is supposed to do) background checks on leaders.  Most CO's don't do this, that I know of.  Some states also require additional background checks and information.

The CO's may not be informed of the background provided in these checks.  This may remove an element of info they could/should use in selecting leaders.

I believe the original paradigm intent was for CO's to select leaders from their own membership to serve as adult leaders in a Scouting program they used as a service to their local community.  This model was not followed in most units I have been a part of...  I can't ever recall a COR or CO interviewing me before signing my application as an adult leader.  But, my circumstances may have been different, due to my profession...

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Pardon a very off topic post...

9 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

BONUS POST SCRIPT: It seems I have now made 1,000 posts on these forums since joining almost 5 years ago. My deepest thanks to all who have made this place such a crucial and delightful source of knowledge and direction throughout my Scouting career!

And thank you for being such a tremendous member here as well.  Your posts are always well thought out and bring a lot to the discussion.  Thank you for all your contributions over those five years!

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4 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

The proposed solution for this by BSA National is to allow for the first time ever the elimination of COs and instead having units chartered by the local Council. The church/former CO agrees only to provide meeting space and nothing more.

It is my understanding one of the Catholic diocese in Texas has move to this model almost entirely.

Does anyone know if abuse lawsuits against a CO have succeeded in the past or have they been successful with BSA providing coverage?  I haven't heard any; however, even the cost of litigation is extremely expensive.

The CO model has been weak for a long time.  These lawsuits will likely be the death of the traditional CO.

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19 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

Does anyone know if abuse lawsuits against a CO have succeeded in the past or have they been successful with BSA providing coverage?

We are in uncharted waters here. PRIOR suits were against BSA and Councils. Most that I am aware of did NOT involved the CO.

The problem is that a) the insurance companies are refusing to pay out on BSA's insurance (claiming, in part, BSA withheld information and that they caused their own damage which isn't covered by insurance) and b) we are not talking about a case here or there but THOUSANDS and the plaintiffs attorneys want all the pockets of money available and that includes the COs now.

This also may be "unique" to LDS in the sense that LDS made BSA such an integral part of their programming and such.

For example, I found one of the lawsuits. I am blacking out the victim's name.

  1. Grand Canyon Council Inc   
  2. Boy Scouts Of America   
  3. Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, The   
  4. Corporation Of The Presiding Bishop Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saint

Note this is different than if, say, a Catholic parish was sued. There, the first two would remain the same (Council and National get sued) but instead of suing the entire Catholic Church OR even the Diocese, the lawsuit would be against the local parish.

Untitled.png

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Also, no insurance policy or indemnification clause provides coverage due to negligence.  Plaintiff's lawyer could argue the CO was negligent in selecting abusing leader, since the CO's representative was required to approve the application.

The court will have to decide

1.  Did the CO have a duty of care in selecting appropriate leaders? (I think we would agree, Yes.)

2.  Did the CO breach that duty in selecting the offending leader? (this one will be hard to prove, unless the plaintiff can present evidence the CO somehow knew.)

3.  Did the CO's breach cause an injury? (once 2 is proven, this domino could easily fall.)

4.  Were there, in fact, damages as a result of CO's breach and subsequent injury?  (3 and 4 go hand in hand, but must be proven in court.)

Edited by InquisitiveScouter
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15 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

2.  Did the CO breach that duty in selecting the offending leader? (this one will be hard to prove, unless the plaintiff can present evidence the CO somehow knew.)

There are overlapping claims that have come up in similar lawsuits against COs, Councils, and National. The best example was the Oregon case.

https://law.justia.com/cases/oregon/court-of-appeals/1997/147-or-app-425.html
Negligent supervision:

Negligent training:

Negligent retention:

In other words, even if the SELECTION was OK (Negligent hiring, even if the person's a volunteer the term is "hired") the CO and Council failed to properly supervise, train, and retain (meaning they didn't fire the offender fast enough).

THAT is why so many of the COs want to get out from under the traditional charter agreement which DOES make them liable for selection/hiring, supervision, training, and retention of leaders. For a CO who is completely checked out and thinks their responsibility is to just sign the recharter agreement once a year, this is a major, major wake up call.

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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I live in PA.  The fallout from the Jerry Sandusky (Penn State) trial was a state law requiring certain volunteers to obtain three clearances:

1.  A PA State Police Criminal Background Check

2.  A  PA Child Abuse History Check

3.  Either an FBI Background Check (at volunteer expense) based on fingerprints OR an affidavit stating you have committed no offenses if you have been a PA resident >= 10 years.

Each must be renewed every 5 years.

The law also states that organizations (COs) sponsoring youth groups must retain copies of these clearances.  This is where CO's have been remiss since the law went into effect 5 years ago.

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:5BbDkevwjAMJ:https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/01/groups-are-skirting-pa-law-intended-to-protect-children-from-abuse-in-wake-of-penn-state-scandal.html+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Most units in our council are not keeping their own records, nor helping their CO's with this either, as they should...it is not Loyal, Helpful, or Obedient (imho)

The new CO arrangement would most likely relieve them of this requirement as well.  Our council does maintain these records.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/31/2020 at 6:51 AM, ParkMan said:

Pardon a very off topic post...

And thank you for being such a tremendous member here as well.  Your posts are always well thought out and bring a lot to the discussion.  Thank you for all your contributions over those five years!

And thank YOU for such kind words! I hardly feel deserving of them, but I pray I will continue to share as much with others as has been shared with me over the years, only tenfold so!

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The saddest thing, to me, is LDS Church nationally licensed the program and then through some means paid for youth memberships. There were specific guides on how to do things for LDS Scouters. 
 

LDS walked away from that, AND I presume walked away from the liability coverage granted to a chartered partner. You guys are a big church body, but you’re going to take some fiscal hits in the next decade. 

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7 hours ago, John-in-KC said:

The saddest thing, to me, [•••]
 

LDS walked away from that, AND I presume walked away from the liability coverage granted to a chartered partner. You guys are a big church body, but you’re going to take some fiscal hits in the next decade. 

I don't think the LDS church forfeited the standard insurance/indemnification that any other CO would have had by ending it's relationship at the end of 2019. Charter agreements were always per-year.

That said, the LDS church has been self-insured in other areas, and LDS units in my council were told not to pay the council "insurance fee", relying instead on the church's other activity insurance. But the hundreds of Methodist churches who put in defensive claims did so on the basis of indemnification in the charter agreement, not an insurance contract; I don:t see why the LDS church couldn't make the same argument.

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8 hours ago, John-in-KC said:

LDS walked away from that, AND I presume walked away from the liability coverage granted to a chartered partner. You guys are a big church body, but you’re going to take some fiscal hits in the next decade. 

Yeah, the insurance covers the actions in the years for which there was a valid policy. So if the abuse happened in 2000 then BSA's 2000 coverage policy still covers, even if LDS left in 2019.

Edited by CynicalScouter
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