ABUSED IN SCOUTING: Arizona survivors face new deadline to seek justice
By Nicole Crites
3TV/CBS5 via AZFamily. com
January 31, 2020
There is an avalanche of new sex abuse accusations against Boy Scouts of America as the deadline for local survivors to take action is fast approaching. A new law passed last year gives child sex abuse survivors in Arizona until December 30, 2020, to file a civil suit against the abusers and institutions that gave them access to children.The group Abused in Scouting just filed a new lawsuit in federal court in Washington D.C. against Boy Scouts of America, BSA, where the scouts were originally chartered by congress in 1910.As part of that charter, BSA was required to submit annual reports, which never disclosed anything about the liability of widespread allegations of abuse within its ranks or the fact the organization secretly maintained and destroyed thousands of files naming accused and convicted pedophiles working with young boys.
The suit names eight John Does, including one from Arizona, who says he was abused when he was nine years old and was forced into sex acts with other children while his scout leader took pictures.
Attorneys hope that the case will set a precedent helping survivors seek justice in other states that don't have newly extended statute of limitations, or so-called revival laws.
Experts say sex abuse can take years, even decades to disclose. Dan Carroll, now 54 years old, says he has come a long way in coming to terms with his past, to seek justice for his future. "I was a naive, trusting young man," Carroll said.
He's part of another mass tort suit going after Boy Scouts of America for failing to ensure a safe environment and covering up decades of sex abuse. He was 9 years old in Webelos when he says his scout leader, Don Davis, took him on a drive to an abandoned gravel pit in Fountain Hills. He claims the incident started with a talk about coming of age, and ended with oral sex. "Well he exposed himself and encouraged me to... 'take care of him,'" Carroll said.
Dan told his mom about what happened. They called 9-1-1, and Maricopa County Sheriff's detectives eventually found 13 other boys who said Davis had also abused them.
But when Dan went to his parish priest for help, he says he was re-victimized. "He suggested that I show him what happened," Carroll said. "I think he feigned ignorance about what I was trying to communicate with him and suggested that I demonstrate," he said.
Deputies arrested Father Harry Morgan and Don Davis the same day. Morgan pleaded no contest and got 10 years probation. Davis pleaded guilty and did 20 years in prison.
Attorney Tim Kosnoff says sex crimes cases against the Boy Scouts dwarf what we've seen in the Catholic church scandal. "I think by the time the dust settles, we're going to see tens of thousands of victims come forward," Kosnoff said.
His group, Abused in Scouting, is now representing more than 1,800 survivors, ranging in age from 7 to 92. "We had multiple instances where Boy Scout leaders knew about it and never reported it to police. Other times they readmitted known child molesters," Kosnoff said.
BSA released a statement that reads, in part:
“We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting.”
"We are outraged there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children."
"They not only should've known... they DID know!" Kosnoff insisted.
We found the video deposition of Douglas Smith, the man BSA nationals put in charge of protecting scouts from sex abuse. "I was convicted of receipt and distribution of child pornography," Smith said.
"He was caught with hundreds of thousands of child porn images on his computer by the Department of Homeland Security," Kosnoff said. Smith served seven years in prison and BSA still allowed him to retire from the organization.
Meantime, Eddie Meyersick never had his day in court. "I always told myself that I would never tell the story," Meyersick said. When we interviewed him, he had only just fully disclosed his abuse in scouting to his wife and parents after years of shame.
"Right, yes, literally, three days ago. That's how long I guess I had this bottled up inside," Meyersick said. He just moved from Phoenix back to Utah where he says his scout leader abused him when he was 12.
"He started engaging in things that were simply inappropriate, whether that was a slap on the rear end just for fun or a pinch," Meyersick said. "He looked for opportunities to get me alone, and he got me into his truck and performed oral sex on me... And that was it, I just couldn’t stand to be around him anymore."
He told his parents he was done with scouting and didn't want to go back. "My biggest fear is that he went on to abuse other boys," Meyersick said.
We did some digging and found his accused abuser, David Conrad. He told us he remembered Eddie Meyersick and hung up when we started asking more questions. His mother told us he stopped being a troop leader after about a year, then went on to work maintenance at a school.
We found court records that show David Conrad was sentenced to eight months behind bars for forcible sex abuse of a 15-year-old boy in 1996, more than a decade after Meyersick left scouts. "That's probably my biggest regret... is not doing something when I was younger," Meyersick said.
Like Arizona, Utah is one of about two dozen states that recently extended its statute of limitations.
So, in addition to joining the new mass tort suit against BSA, Eddie's next step is finally filing a police report, which he just did, right before this story was filed. "Maybe others as well will feel comfortable sharing their stories," Meyersick said.
BSA has a new Youth Protection website to show that the organization is committed to better screening, training, responding and reporting any allegations of abuse. BSA leaders say they are considering filing for bankruptcy as they look into all the allegations piling up against them.
Boy Scouts of America had this to say regarding a potential financial restructuring:
The Boy Scouts of America is working with experts and exploring all options available so we can live up to our social and moral responsibility to equitably compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs. No decisions have been made and we continue to fully meet our financial obligations to our vendors, creditors and other stakeholders."
"If bankruptcy is a way of shielding them from responsibility, then I think that's uh, a pretty [expletive] way to go," Carroll said.
It's not about the money for Dan. We dug up his 1975 case file on microfiche in Superior Court and found, buried in the old records, the family of the first boy molested by Don Davis in 1973 told detectives they confronted the scouts a year before Dan or any of the others young boys were abused and "tried to keep him (Davis) from becoming scoutmaster," saying they were "bewildered his appointment was allowed nonetheless."
"I think they need to take responsibility," Carroll said. His abuser’s name was added, like so many others, in the BSA's confidential perversion files. "Responsible parents can't stop it. But we can," Carroll said.
"And that's the whole point - to try and make sure the institutions that put themselves in the lives of young people for very good reasons are being responsible and taking every possible step they can to protect kids," he said.
Below is the full statement given by Boy Scouts of America:
"First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.
The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to equitably compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. The BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.
The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to access counseling and help needed to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, please visit: www.scouting.org/youth-safety.
We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many, which is precisely why we continually improve all of our policies. In addition, we fully support and advocate for universal measures that would help keep kids safe in all organizations. We strongly support the development and utilization of a national database that all youth-serving organizations – including schools, athletic clubs, faith-based youth groups, and Scouting – could contribute to and use to screen volunteers so that individuals removed from any one institution could not join another down the street, in a different state, or across the country. We call upon Congress and other youth-serving organizations to support this initiative.