News Channel 8 Video - Two Families Sue for Sexual
Posted on Jun 01, 2011
Two local families are suing the Boy Scouts of America, a Scout and St. Johns United Methodist Church, saying that lax supervision enabled the Scout to sexually abuse their sons during overnight camping trips.
The lawsuits also allege that the organizations ignored warnings of abuse and bullying in the Southwest Florida Council's Troop 23.
One of the lawsuits states that a teenage Scout who was given authority over younger Scouts, held a knife to a 12-year-old boy's throat and forced him to perform oral sex on him during a 2007 scouting trip to Florida Caverns State Park in Jackson County.
The other case alleges that the teenager physically threatened a 13-year-old boy to force him to allow a third Scout to perform oral sex on him during a 2007 trip to Camp Flying Eagle in Manatee County.
The church is named in the suit as a coordinator of the Scout troop, which provided a place for the Scouts to meet and transportation to the overnight outings.
Local and national Scout officials did not comment specifically on the suits. St. Johns church pastor Bill Corristan said he had not seen the suits late Monday and did not want to comment.
The teenager, a 2008 graduate of Sarasota Military Academy who is only named in one of the lawsuits, said the charges are false.
Both lawsuits assert that troop leaders with the Southwest Florida Council learned on at least two other occasions that older Scouts were abusing or bullying younger ones in the local troop. The suits also say that the Scouts and the church did not have supervisors on the trip who were trained to spot or prevent abuse from happening.
Attorney Damian Mallard, who filed the suits in the Sarasota County court Monday, said the abuse was sexual bullying. The lawsuits seek more than $15,000 in damages for injuries, pain and suffering and medical expenses. Mallard said the Boy Scouts have had abuse cases in the past, but those typically involved adults and children.
"The new abuse is older, stronger and more domineering kids taking advantage of younger kids," said Mallard.
Mallard said one of the warnings to the Scouts came in January 2007, when parents complained that a younger Troop 23 member was forced to let other Scouts lick whipped cream off his naked body.
Separate from that warning, the parents of one of the lawsuit victims said they went to troop leaders at the church and expressed concerns that the teenager was verbally and physically abusing their son. They asked that he not be allowed around their child, but that did not happen, the suit says.
Mallard is preparing to file a third lawsuit that involves a different troop in the Southwest Florida Council. The teenager is not involved in that case, he said.
The March 2007 case was reported to law enforcement in Jackson County, but it was ultimately dismissed because the state attorney did not bring it to trial in a timely fashion.
A national scouting spokesman said the group focuses on keeping children safe.
"The Boy Scouts have some of the oldest and most respected youth protection measures in the country," said Deron Smith, spokesperson for Boy Scouts of America.