It’s been a while since a truly ugly scandal involving the Boy Scouts of America figured prominently in the headlines. Fortune smiles upon the local court watcher then with the news that the latest could play out right here in Seattle.
In 1978, Dustin Hall was a scoutmaster charged by leaders in the Mormon Church’s Shelton, Washington ward to help lead a local boy scout troop. Thirty years later, he stands accused of sexually abusing one his former charges on multiple occasions, that according to a negligence suit filed in King County Superior Court yesterday against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
The suit, one of three similar cases filed in states along the west coast Monday by plaintiffs represented by Portland attorney Kelly Clark, says that in early 2009, the as of yet unnamed plaintiff realized that his ongoing psychological trauma was due to "injuries" sustained during his experience in boy scouts back in the late ’70’s.
He alleges that from1978-1979, Hall abused him 30 separate times. The abuse was preceded by outward attempts to gain the then 13-year-old’s trust and deference, as well as his parents. It’s a creepy process referred to in the documents as "grooming."
The plaintiff also alleges that both defendants are complicit in a campaign to cover up the "rampant problem of sexual abuse of scouts by scout leaders." It’s unclear from the documents whether Hall was ever charged with the alleged crime, or if he had prior convictions for molestation. But the plaintiff through Clark, claims that both the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church should have been aware of Hall’s alleged preference for underage children.
For his part, Clark seems to specialize in these kinds of cases. He’s filed 11 Oregon-based lawsuits against the Boy Scouts in the last few years, all of which are still pending.
A email sent to the Boy Scouts of America press office was not returned immediately. But Chuck Gordon, a lawyer for the Mormon Church told the Associate Press that the church would investigate the allegations and "act accordingly." More as it develops.