New sex abuse lawsuit targets LDS Church, Utah Boy Scout council

Latest case is one of more than 82,000 against the national youth organization.

A Washington state man is suing a Utah Boy Scout council and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, alleging he was sexually abused as a child by Scout leaders while living in the Beehive State.

The man, referred to by the pseudonym John Doe, says he was abused in or around 2009 while under the supervision of the Boy Scouts of America. The 3rd District Court suit asserts Doe was abused due to negligence on behalf of the church, the Boy Scouts of America and the Crossroads of the West Council — a regional BSA organization that includes all of Utah.

The suit did not detail specific instances of abuse but stated that “counselors, teachers, trustees, directors, officers, employees, agents, servants and/or volunteers” of the local council “sexually assaulted, sexually abused and/or had sexual contact” with Doe while he was a minor.

The council’s ongoing influence in Boy Scout activities and its “dominating culture” over Doe pressured him not to report his abusers’ offenses, the suit alleges. Despite credible allegations against Doe’s abusers, it adds, the local council never sent an investigator to advise or notify the Scouts or their families.

“BSA Local Council failed to protect [Doe], despite having actual knowledge of widespread sexual abuse within the organization,” the suit states. “An extensive database was maintained with countless reports of boys that were sexually abused while attending camping trips and troop meetings. As a result of these failures, the following Plaintiff was sexually abused, raped and fondled as a result of Defendant BSA Local Council‘s acts and omissions.”

Because of the abuse, Doe has suffered from severe, lifelong physical and mental injuries, including depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse, court documents state.

“As a victim of Defendant BSA Local Council ‘s misconduct, [Doe] is unable at this time to fully describe all the details of that abuse and the extent of the harm [Doe] suffered as a result,” the suit states. “The injuries and damages suffered by [Doe] are specific in kind to [Doe], special, peculiar, and above and beyond those injuries and damages suffered by the public.”

The suit alleges intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, general negligence and negligent hiring/retention/supervision/direction. Doe seeks punitive damages and puts the value of the case at over $300,000.

This lawsuit is one of more than 82,200 abuse claims filed against BSA in recent years. Some of those have implicated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which before formally ending its centurylong partnership with the organization in 2020 was the nation’s largest sponsor of Scout troops.

In 2021, the church offered to contribute $250 million to a fund created for abuse claimants as part of BSA bankruptcy proceedings. A bankruptcy judge rejected the settlement the following year, however, ruling “it went too far in attempting to protect the church from abuse claims that only were loosely connected to Scouting activities,” Reuters reported at the time.

The decision further exposed the church to claims like those in this latest Utah lawsuit.

The church declined to comment on this particular suit. However, in a previous statement relating to similar suits brought against the Salt Lake City-based faith, a spokesperson pointed out that the church has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind.

The new Utah filing says the Boy Scouts of America is “not a party to this civil action” due to the bankruptcy case.