Decades of sexual abuse against Charlotte-area Boy Scouts alleged in new lawsuits

Raleigh News & Observer [Raleigh NC]

December 18, 2021

By Michael Gordon

As the window begins to close for North Carolina sexual assault victims to take their attackers to court, two new lawsuits pull back the curtains on allegations of more than a half century of Boy Scout abuse in Charlotte.

In one complaint, 29 former Scouts have sued the Mecklenburg Council of the Boy Scouts of America over assault allegations dating back as far as 1950 and as recent as 2007. At least one of the former Scouts is now in his 80s.

In a second lawsuit, a New York City man claims that as a 13- and 14-year-old, he was abused by his Scoutmaster in Charlotte for more than a year in the early 1980s, triggering a lifetime of emotional and physical problems. He, too, is calling on the Mecklenburg courts to hold the Boy Scouts council responsible for abusers it should have been aware of and crimes it should have stopped, according to his complaint.

Mark Turner, chief executive officer of the Mecklenburg Council, did not immediately respond to an Observer email Friday seeking comment.

While all of the accusers’ names appear in the filings, the Observer generally does not identify victims of possible sexual abuse.

The timing of their filings is far from coincidental. Under the state’s novel SAFE Child Act, many victims who were sexually abused as children have until Dec. 31 to file claims against their abusers. Beginning in January 2022, the regular three-year statute of limitations on these cases returns, blocking the ability of most victims to recover damages.

The Mecklenburg cases are the latest in a rush of sexual-abuse complaints filed against organizations in the state, including schools, churches and youth groups:

▪ Three Boy Scout abuse lawsuits were recently filed in Winston-Salem.

▪ More than three dozen former high school students at the North Carolina School of the Arts allege they were abused by some 30 faculty members or school administrator. The sexual assaults bridged five decades, according to the complaint.

▪ Also last month, a Charlotte man said he endured multiple sexual assaults from his Catholic priest during the 1990s when he was an elementary school student in an east Charlotte parish.