NEWARK, NJ — Lawyers across the U.S. are recruiting clients for a potentially crippling new wave of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts.
Child sex abuse survivor Bridie Farrell joined others at two news conferences in both New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to release the names of 130 scout leaders in New York State and another 52 in New Jersey who are accused of sexually abusing young Boy Scouts.
“The reason we are up here is to give other survivors the strength to report and come forward with their abuse to make the Boy Scouts, sports and churches safer for everyone,” Farrell, who was was sexually molested when she was just 15, said.
These names are said to be part of what’s called the perversion files, created by the Boy Scouts of America, according to these lawyers. They claim there are at least 7,000 pedophile Boy Scout leaders who sexually molested 12,000 young boys since 1944 and their names were never made public,
“They may have removed them from scouting, but they never alerted the community that this leader, teacher, priest may be a child molester,” Jeff Anderson, a victims’ lawyer, said at the news conference.
The lawyers and survivor advocates are hoping that a recently passed law in New York State, the Child Victims Act, and a law sitting on New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s desk removing the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims civilly will encourage more victims to come forward.
“We absolutely anticipate governor Murphy will sign this into law, giving these victims voice and right to proceed in taking back their healing and their voice,” Greg Gianforcaro, another victims’ rights lawyer, said at the news conference.
In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America said they believe and support victims.
"We have paid for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice," the statement reads. "Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in Scouting and we are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children.”
But not everyone feels the Boy Scouts have taken the issue seriously.
“If they really felt that way long-ago, they wouldn’t have kept the secret and hidden these files,” Mark Crawford, another sex abuse victim’s advocate, told PIX11. “They would not have allowed children to remain at risk."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.