What to Know
- The victim, identified only as S.D., is one of more than 800 people who have come forward recently to detail sexual abuse
- He was just 13 years old when the abuse started, according to a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia
- This is the first lawsuit filed by Abused in Scouting, a group representing hundreds of victims all over the country
More than 800 men have identified themselves as victims of sexual abuse by Boy Scouts of America leaders, according to a group of lawyers representing the former scouts.
The lawyers, members of a recently-formed partnership called Abused in Scouting, represent victims from all over the country, including at least 38 in Pennsylvania. Most of these men are now in their 50s and 60s, the lawyers said.
“That tells you how long it takes for somebody to come to grips with [abuse],” Philadelphia attorney Stewart Eisenberg said Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Eisenberg filed a civil lawsuit in Philadelphia on behalf of a Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, man who allegedly endured years of “grievous, unspeakable acts of sexual abuse” at the hands of an assistant scout leader, according to court records.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in the Court of Common Pleas, is the first of hundreds of potential cases detailing decades of sexual abuse by male BSA leaders. In it, Eisenberg’s client is merely identified by the initials S.D.
Over a five-year period, S.D. said he was “conditioned to comply” with his alleged abuser, assistant scout leader Paul Antosh of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
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A message left on the voicemail of a phone number listed as belonging to Antosh was not immediately returned.
S.D.'s lawsuit detailed years of abuse during which Antosh “utilized physical, emotional and spiritual force and persuasion to impose his moral will” on S.D., who was barely 13 years old when the abuse began, according to court records.
From approximately 1975 to 1980, the teen was subjected to “fondling, hundreds of incidents of oral sexaul assault and repeated attempts of anal penetration,” the lawsuit alleged. Antosh used drugs and alcohol to coax S.D. into “deviant sexual acts,” according to the lawsuit.
These attacks frequently took place during camping trips and inside the alleged abuser’s home.
Over time, these attacks escalated and contributed to subsequent decades of nightmares, anger, depression and anxiety, the suit alleges.
“If there is one thing we have learned about the Boy Scouts is that the Boy Scouts of America don’t protect children,” Eisenberg said at a news conference Tuesday.
According to court documents, S.D. decided to come forward after seeing a television ad encouraging victims of pedophilia within the BSA to share their stories. He was one of more than 800 people who reached out to Abused in Scouting since the partnership formed in February.
Eisenberg said the lawyers united over concerns that the BSA would declare bankruptcy and therefore limit legal against the organization.
“There is a crisis in the Boy Scouts and there has been for many years, for many decades,” Eisenberg said Tuesday, adding that the alleged abuse dates back several generations.
His lawsuit references a group of files kept by the BSA known as the “red files, perversion files or ineligible volunteer files” that hid nearly 70 years of sexual abuse by BSA leaders. Portions of that list were made public in 2012 by the Los Angeles Times and detail thousands of instances of alleged abuse between 1947 and 2005.
It was not immediately clear if Antosh was ever listed in those files.
Still, Eisenberg said the so-called red files pointed to a culture of cover ups similar to that of the Pennsylvania Roman Catholic Church, which was the subject of a brutal grand jury report released last year.
Abused in Scouting lawyers said they’ve identified 350 previously unknown scoutmasters and volunteers who allegedly preyed on boys — and whose names were not known to law enforcement or in the BSA’s internal database.
That report plus a change in statute of limitations laws in neighboring New Jersey and New York inspired Abused in Scouting to look more closely at allegations against the BSA, Eisenberg said. Similar legislation in Pennsylvania stalled in the state Senate.
Despite that, Eisenberg hopes that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro might open a similar investigation into the BSA as he did into Catholic Church clergy members, he said.
“It’s never too late for that,” Eisenberg said. “We would love to see grand jury reports by any state attorney general that wants to pursue this.”