A new lawsuit filed this week against the Boy Scouts of America claims to have uncovered hundreds of previously undisclosed cases of sexual abuse involving scout leaders that do not appear in the organization's disciplinary files.
The suit was filed in a Pennsylvania court on behalf of a former scout who alleges his scoutmaster repeatedly abused him. It accuses BSA of negligence for failing to protect him.
The attorneys representing the accuser are part of an advocacy group called Abused in Scouting, which launched an online campaign earlier this year that encouraged victims to come forward with their stories.
During a press conference Tuesday, the group said they've heard from nearly 800 individuals who claim they were abused by scout leaders, 680 of whom have signed up as clients.
Most of the alleged victims are now in their 40s, 50s, and 60s -- and they come from all over the country.
The attorneys also claimed their work has identified 350 scout leaders who have been accused of abuse, but who do not appear in BSA's disciplinary files, many of which have been made public through past lawsuits.
The group called on Congress to conduct an investigation into BSA -- and indicated their work is not yet done.
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"Come forward," said Tim Kosnoff, an attorney with Abused in Scouting. "Tell your story. And join this movement. Because that’s what this is. This is a human rights movement against one of the biggest offenders in the world, the Boy Scouts of America."
BSA's national headquarters are located in Irving. NBC 5 reached out to the organization for comment on these new allegations, but has not heard back.
In a statement they provided to USA Today, which ran an in-depth piece on the issue ahead of Tuesday's announcement by Abused in Scouting, BSA said:
We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.
Upon receipt of this information from the group of plaintiff’s attorneys, we immediately investigated the limited information provided and our efforts have already resulted in approximately 120 reports to the lead law enforcement agency in each state with an accusation of abuse. We have also contacted local law enforcement for all the cases in which enough information was provided to identify the correct agency.
As a result of providing these notifications, some law enforcement agencies informed the BSA that they need additional information in order to investigate the claims. Because the BSA is not privy to any additional details at this time, the law enforcement agencies have called Abused in Scouting for more information. On July 11, the BSA informed AIS that a few law enforcement agencies had reported to the organization that they had been unable to contact AIS.
We are continuing to manually search paper records at the local level to see if we can identify more information about the additional alleged perpetrators identified in the plaintiff’s attorneys list. As we identify sufficient information, we will immediately notify law enforcement.