Former Cub Scout sues den leader, Scouting officials and LDS Church over alleged sexual abuse decades ago

A Salt Lake County man has sued his former Cub Scout den leader, Boy Scout organizers and top leaders with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in connection with sexual abuse alleged to have happened some 28 years ago.

In a lawsuit filed late Monday in 2nd District Court in Davis County, the accuser — named only as John Doe C.J. — claims Thomas M. Thackeray first sodomized him in a fit of anger in the summer of 1991 during a den meeting of the Syracuse 5th Ward’s Cub Scout Pack.

C.J., then 7, said he intervened to prevent Thackeray, a former Logan resident who is now 72 and in jail, from violently beating Thackeray’s adoptive daughter when the den leader dragged him into a back room, subdued and raped him.

The incident would be the first of what C.J. claims in court documents was a series of coerced, violent and methodical sexual assaults during Cub Scout meetings over the course of a year, deploying either physical duress or mental coercion.

Thackeray, currently being held at Utah State Prison in a separate felony stalking case, allegedly forced C.J. to remain quiet about the abuse with threats of additional sexual violence or of harm to his two siblings, the lawsuit says.

“Because of these threats, and fearful for his own safety and the safety of his brothers, C.J. at that time did not tell anyone of the abuse,” the 20-page lawsuit states. That included his parents, the suit states, and unaware of the abuse, “they continued to require that C.J. participate in Cub Scout activities despite his protests.”

Thackeray pleaded guilty in 2016 in 1st District Court in Logan to the third-degree felony stalking charge in connection with trying to lure a teenage boy into having sex with him. Court documents indicate his criminal history includes several charges of stalking and sending pornography to a minor.

The lawsuit claims that throughout C.J’s abuse, Thackeray was acting as “an agent” of supervisors over Scouting through the LDS Church’s nonprofit corporation formed around its church presidency as well as the Boy Scouts of America and its Great Salt Lake Council, all of which oversaw the den’s activities.

The suit accuses those officials of violating trust and of negligence for allegedly not taking adequate steps to prevent or halt Thackeray’s abuse, in part by failing “to determine whether he was fit to work with children or to protect children from him, thereby increasing the likelihood that Plaintiff would be harmed.”

An official with the LDS Church’s Public Affairs Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials with Boy Scouts of America and its Great Salt Lake Council could not be reached late Tuesday.

Though the alleged abuse ended abruptly when Thackeray was arrested in 1992 on a separate charge in Davis County of distributing pornography to a minor, C.J. was haunted for years by the assaults, the lawsuit states.

In 2015, he began suffering vivid dreams and painful memories, triggered in part by his nephews “approaching the same age C.J. was during the time of abuse,” leading him to fear irrationally for their safety. Once he realized, in 2016, that Thackeray was in custody and no longer a threat, “this epiphany finally allowed C.J. to pursue this claim.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages for what C.J. claims are a host of physical and emotional ailments and effects he has suffered over the years, as well as for expenses for medical and psychological treatments.