Survivors of institutional sexual abuse are often left with devastating emotional trauma that can linger for decades. These victims have suffered at the hands of those in positions of power, whom they assumed were trustworthy authority figures. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America continue to discover evidence from victims who suffered abuse as children. Now, these victims are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel as many states have extended their statutes of limitations for bringing lawsuits against these organizations.
California and Washington D.C. recently joined a number of states and territories in extending the time for survivors of child sexual abuse to press charges and seek civil damages. Many of these survivors were abused during their time with the Boy Scouts of America as young children.
Since 2009, lawmakers in 38 states have introduced bills that reflect these changes. This push to extend the statutes of limitations or eradicate them all together began through a better understanding of just how long it can take survivors dealing with years of trauma to come forward. According to CHILD USA, a nonprofit that focuses on preventing child abuse and neglect, the average age of disclosure among victims is 52; however, many victims never disclose childhood abuse.
Decades of Institutional Sexual Abuse
The Boy Scouts of America (Scouts) was founded in 1910, and since then allegations of abuse and misconduct have surrounded it for decades. In 2010, Judge John A. Wittmayer of Oregon ordered the Scouts to make an internal list of scoutmasters and others accused of abuse. The list would become known as the “Perversion Files.”
According to a Time Magazine report, a child abuse expert hired by the Scouts to analyze the files testified she found over 12,000 boys reported sexual abuse at the hands of roughly 7,800 suspected abusers between 1944 and 2016. As many of these victims decided not to come forward, the actual numbers are likely much higher.
What Constitutes Institutional Sexual Abuse?
Institutional sexual abuse refers to abuse committed by a person in a position of power with an institution like a church, school, or youth service organization like the Scouts. This type of abuse is often ongoing, leaving victims enduring trauma for many years, which can affect them physically, mentally, and even financially.
Holding Institutional Sexual Abusers Accountable for Their Actions
A majority of the victims who suffer institutional sexual abuse are minor children at the time of the assault. Children who have been subjected to sexual abuse are often left with devastating emotional pain and trauma that can linger for decades after. When the abuser is a teacher, clergy member, coach, or scout leader, the child’s trust is often violated beyond repair.
At Raizner Slania LLP, our experienced institutional sexual abuse attorneys are dedicated to seeking the justice sexual abuse survivors are rightfully due. If you or someone you know were the victim of an institution that allowed child abuse, sexual abuse, or assault to occur, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with us.