An Arizona man is alleging his Boy Scout leader sexually abused him on multiple occasions, including at a local hotel in 1999 during a visit to Kings Island, among other places, in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Warren County.
Thomas Abner, 24, claims Scout leader Steven Woodard, who is now deceased, began abusing him at age 11.
The lawsuit, which does not state where the troop was based, alleges the Boy Scouts of America “knew of or should have known of Woodard violating its child protection rules by spending time alone with (Abner) outside of Scouting.”
Woodard “weaseled” his way into Abner’s family and began molesting the boy when he was 7 years old, according to Abner’s attorney, Konrad Kircher.
The lawsuit makes claims of negligence against the Boy Scouts of America.
The BSA “negligently failed to discipline Woodard or warn plaintiff or his mother of the risk of molestation in such cases,” the lawsuit reads. “The risk of molestation in Scouting was not open and obvious because BSA had taken numerous steps to conceal the magnitude of the problem and … denied that there was a child sexual abuse problem in Scouting.”
Woodard abused, molested and raped Abner more than 300 times during a three-and-a-half-year period, according to Kircher.
“He falls under the new statute of limitations enacted in 2006, giving him until age 30 to bring the claim,” Kircher said. “He has just recently been able to confront his demons.”
Woodard pleaded guilty to three counts of child molestation in 2002 in Delaware County, Ind., and was sent to prison for seven years. He died in 2005.
Kircher is working with Oregon attorneys Kelly Clark and Paul Mones, who were the lead attorneys in the 2010 trial against the BSA that resulted in a $19.5 million verdict. That case also forced the public release last year of the Boy Scout’s internal “perversion” files on known pedophiles.
There are 1,892 names on that list that dates back to 1971 and 78 were from Ohio, including several from Cincinnati and one from Maineville in Warren County.
Deron Smith, director of public relations for the BSA said they hadn’t seen Abner’s complaint, but the organization has gone to great lengths to ensure the safety of Scouts.
“Any instance of child victimization or abuse is intolerable and unacceptable. While we have not seen this lawsuit, we deeply regret that there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims,” Smith said. “The BSA was one of the first youth programs to develop youth protection policies and education, and has continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies, like requiring all members to report even suspicions of abuse directly to local law enforcement.”
The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $25,000.
Denise G. Callahan - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
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