BOISE - Five men who say they were sexually abused as kids while in the Boy Scouts of America are suing the organization and the Mormon Church because they say both groups fraudulently presented the Boy Scouts as a safe, wholesome activity for boys.
The men filed the lawsuit in Boise's U.S. District Court on Monday. They contend that the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints knew that there were child molesters in the Boy Scouts, but covered up the danger instead of letting parents and kids know about the risk.
"I finally have a chance to right a wrong," said Riley Gilroy.
Riley Gilroy is one of five men who filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS church. Attorneys for the victims say both organizations knew accused child molesters were volunteers for the Boy Scouts, but didn't tell parents.
"The LDS church and the Boy Scouts of America have known about this, they've known about Jim Schmidt prior to him hurting me and they've been covering it up,” said Gilroy. “And they've been committing fraud by covering it up. And I say no more.”
Gilion Dumas, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the leaders of the organization knew they were continuing to put boys in jeopardy.
"We believe this cover-up of this danger lulled children and their parents into thinking that Scouting was a safe activity for children, when both the Boy Scouts of America and the LDS church knew that it wasn't, and failed to disclose those dangers to the parents and the children so they didn't take common sense measures to keep themselves safe," she said.
The lawsuit claims the abuse happened between 1971 to about 1983 in Idaho. It says in 1982, James Schmidt - a volunteer and scoutmaster - began sexually abusing Riley Gilroy along with other Boy Scouts, even though Schmidt had a history of sexual abuse documented in the "ineligible volunteer file" created by the Boy Scouts of America.
"I feel betrayed, I felt like they not only betrayed me, but the whole neighborhood, all of the other kids that were involved that were in my small circle were all betrayed by everybody around us that knew about this," said Gilroy.
The Boy Scouts sent us a statement that says in part: "The BSA is outraged there have been times when Scouts were abused and we sincerely apologize to the victims and their families. In the many years since these actions occurred, we have continued to strengthen our efforts to protect youth."
A spokesman for the LDS church also sent a statement saying: "We have only recently learned about this legal action, and will take time to understand it fully and to respond as appropriate."
Gilroy hopes by telling his story, other victims of sexual abuse will be able to come forward.
"Don't be afraid, you're not alone. Step up and say something," said Gilroy.
“These five men that have come forward now are some of the brave few men who are able to speak out about what happened to them, but we know that there are others,” said Dumas.
This lawsuit isn't the first one claiming fraud regarding sexual abuse.
Thousands of files on accused child molesters referred to as the ineligible volunteer files or perversion files kept by the Boy Scouts came out over the last few years.
Since then, other cases have been brought in Idaho with the same fraud claim.
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