PHOENIX – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received multiple lawsuits Monday for allegedly covering up decades of sexual abuse among Boy Scout troops in Arizona, marking the latest litigation before the year-end deadline of the status for adult victims to sue.
The church “must be held accountable in order to bring healing and closure to Mormon victims of child sexual abuse,” Hurley McKenna & Mertz, a law firm that focuses on sexual abuse in the church, said in a statement.
In the seven lawsuits, each representing seven different male victims, attorneys say church officials never notified authorities of the abuse allegations. Public records show that members of the church-sponsored Boy Scout troops who were abused told the bishops of the church what they had experienced.
The lawsuits allege that the bishops would have told the victims to be quiet so that the church can conduct its own investigation. Meanwhile, troop leaders and volunteers accused of sexual abuse could continue in their duties or be assigned to another troop, the lawsuits said.
Church spokesman Sam Penrod said in a statement that the faith has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and that serious allegations require a thorough investigation. He called it inaccurate to say that the faith had access to files that had names of banned Scout leaders and said the church has not seen the records that allegedly support the allegations.
“The claim that the church has had access to the files of ineligible BSA volunteers for many decades is simply untrue,” Penrod said. “The church learned the details of those files at the same time as the general public. These claims will be carefully evaluated and appropriately addressed. “
The so-called “Right” storm wreaked havoc in parts of Iowa over the weekend, tearing down a Norway city church built in 1891.
The seven victims are asking a jury to award an unspecified sum for medical expenses, pain and suffering. They also seek punitive damages for the “outrageous conduct” of church officials.
The church sponsored at least seven troops in Arizona in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan area, according to attorneys. All of the lawsuits were filed earlier this month: six in Maricopa County Superior Court and one in Pima County Superior Court. Reports of sexual abuse affected all troops between 1972 and 2009.
The church was the largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America troops and its greatest ally until the association ended on January 1, 2020 and removed more than 400,000 youth. The church moved them into its own global youth program that focuses on religion and spiritual development, as they intertwine in camps and other outdoor activities in parts of the world where that is feasible.
The little girl begged the doctors to let her die so she would not continue living hell at home, according to authorities.
The division between the Boy Scouts and the church ended a nearly century-long relationship between two organizations that came together over shared values that diverged in recent years. Amid declining membership, the Boy Scouts of America reached out to openly gay youth members and adult volunteers, as well as transgender girls and boys, while the church believes that same-sex intimacy is a sin.
In your first step toward creating a compensation fund for men who were sexually abused when they were young years ago by scoutmasters or other leaders, The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection in February.
About 90,000 complaints of sexual abuse have been filed against the Boy Scouts. It is the latest major American institution to seek bankruptcy protection amid mounting legal pressure over allegations of sexual abuse. Catholic dioceses across the country and some universities have paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years.