ST. PAUL, Minn. – Two men sued the Boys Scouts of America on Thursday, saying they were sexually abused as scouts by troop leaders in St. Paul more than 40 years ago.
Their attorney, Jeff Anderson, said the lawsuits allege that the Boys Scouts organization created a public nuisance by its negligence and concealment of abuse allegations and by failing to warn parents and others about the "prevalence" of abuse.
Anderson has used a similar strategy to force the Catholic Church to open files on its priests accused of sexually abusing children.
"These suits seek to cause the Boy Scouts of America to come clean, to make children safe, by exposing and disclosing all the 'perversion files' to the public, to the people and to the leaders on the ground who need to know, so kids can be protected," Anderson said.
The two men, who grew up on the East Side of St. Paul, said they were abused as boys by Scoutmasters: David Lundquist when he was 11, Steven Josephson between the ages of 12 and 15, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1UGClkx ) reported.
Lundquist, 56, now of Woodbury, said the pain caused by the alleged abuse — and by the unwillingness of church and Scouting officials to believe him — is something he has carried "for a long, long time."
"Now I unload that shame and it needs to be unloaded. If I can do that today and maybe help other people unload that shame they've been living with, it's worth it," Lundquist said.
The Minnesota-based Northern Star Council of Scouting released a statement saying the files "were confidential to encourage prompt reporting and protect the identity of any victims."
Now, the council said, "all reports of abuse are immediately conveyed to law enforcement, even if victims or their families wished that such reports be kept confidential," and all old information has been passed on to law enforcement officials.
The lawsuits stem from the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act, which lifted the statute of limitations for child abuse cases, opening a three-year window for people to sue.
In a statement Thursday, Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said the organization was "only recently made aware of these suits, but we will closely review these matters and respond appropriately."
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members," Smith said.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com