Category: Boy Scouts of America

Pennsylvania Moves Towards Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Pennsylvania Moves Towards Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Victims

House Passes Bill For Justice for Child Sexual Abuse Victims _ Horowitz Law

On Wednesday, January 27, House Bill 14 overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 187-15, which could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some child sexual abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits. The measure would create a two-year window during which civil lawsuits alleging childhood sexual abuse may be filed in court – notwithstanding any statute of limitations that had prevented such filings.  Similar measures have passed in New York, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, and Hawaii among other states.

The bill calls for amending the Pennsylvania constitution to create the “window” for victims to pursue claims, and it will requires voter approval.  It is a companion piece to an effort launched in 2018 by state Rep. Mark Rozzi to reform the state’s child sex crime laws in the wake of a set of stunning investigations into clergy sex abuse in Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.

If House Bill 14 passes Senate, it could be on the ballot in May 2021. The Pennsylvania Senate judiciary committee has already approved a companion version of the legislation that passed the House Wednesday, and both chambers approved the proposed amendment last legislative session as well. The General Assembly must approve proposed state constitutional amendments in two consecutive sessions.

The proposed amendment to open a window for lawsuits comes after years of campaigning by abuse survivors, including intense lobbying since a 2018 grand jury report revealed that church leaders in six of the state’s Catholic dioceses had covered up abuse by 300 priests that took place over decades. Rozzi, a survivor of childhood abuse inflicted by a member of the Catholic clergy, hailed, “Victims deserve their day in court. Victims have waited long enough.”

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of child sexual abuse throughout Pennsylvania.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of sexual abuse. We can help.  

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or to discuss your options today.

Why are abuse Boy Scouts coming forward now?

Why Are Abused Boy Scouts Coming Forward Now?

Today’s New York Times reports that more than 82,000 individuals report having been sexually abused in the Boy Scouts.

That’s staggering. That’s supposedly more child sex crimes than in the Catholic church (though solid numbers about predators and victims is notoriously hard to come by.)

To what can so much abuse – and so many victims stepping forward – be attributed?

At least some answers to the first question – why so much abuse – are clear

–Predators surely were tempted to become scout leaders because of the countless opportunities for close contact with kids. Hikes, camp-outs, sleepovers tended to happen in small, often two-person tents in remote locations. And few passersby would find it odd or troubling to see an adult scout leader with his hand on a boy’s leg teaching him to bandage a cut or on a boy’s waist showing him how to stand properly when shooting an arrow from a bow.

–Young men can become scout leaders (or more often, assistant scout masters) at the age of eighteen.

–The requirements and time frames to be given scout leadership posts are much less and much quicker than in other occupations near kids (teachers, ministers, police officers, etc.)

–Many parents prod socially inept or shy or unpopular kids into joining the Scouts, the precise kinds of youngsters who are most vulnerable to predators.

–There are more scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters in the US than there are priests (According to Wikipedia, there are roughly 2.7 million scouts in troops across the US overseen by 800,000 volunteer adult leaders)

So why so many victims stepping forward now? Several reasons:

–The Catholic abuse and cover up crisis spawned groups like SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which showed many adults (men in particular) that there’s no real shame in having been fooled and violated by a trusted adult.

–The #MeToo movement, though largely involving women, has given many permission to re-examine abuse they suffered and to speak about it and take action.

In particular, the Scouts’ bankruptcy

–has virtually no time constraints (so claimants can and do go back decades and decades).

–is set up so that sexual abuse is broadly defined – so for example scout leaders who exposed themselves to youngsters or showed them pornography (even without physical touch) are included.

-attracts, because of its nationwide scope, very large law firms who are accustomed to mass tort cases (like pharmaceuticals and product liability cases) which have done widespread advertising and effective marketing.

But of course all the hard work and advertising in the world would be meaningless if not for the brave victims who are looking inward, summoning their strength, picking up the phone, sharing their pain, and seeking help from independent sources.

So we at Horowitz Law applaud every one of the 82,000 men and women who have so far helped shine a healing light on abuse and cover ups in this widespread, once-universally popular organization.

What now?

If we may offer some advice to these courageous scout survivors. Get organized! Look to the inspiring work done by Catholic survivors who’ve gotten together under the banner of SNAP, an extraordinarily effective group.  For more than 30 years, SNAP’s volunteer local leaders, mostly survivors themselves, have pushed for statute of limitations (SOL) reform in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois, Colorado, New York, Delaware, Missouri, Guam, Hawaii, Washington DC and elsewhere.

They’ve publicly denounced backsliding on SOL laws in states like South Dakota.

They’ve also advocated for state RICO laws and tougher mandatory reporting laws.

They’ve written parole boards urging that predators be kept behind bars.

But perhaps most valuable of all: They’ve provided a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for deeply wounded individuals to band together and get healing. They’ve given frustrated survivors a productive, safe outlet for their pain and anger.

And they’ve made a huge difference for kids.

But only because they’ve been smart and persistent and joined forces.

We at Horowitz Law hope survivors in scouting and other institutional settings do likewise.

Br. Kevin Dunne – Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Brother Kevin Dunne 

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Kevin Dunne Horowitz Law

Ordained: N/A 

Assigned as follows:

  • Los Angeles Central County Jail
  • St. Anthony Seminary (Santa Barbara, CA) 
  • St. Mary’s Basilica (Phoenix, AZ)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Brother Kevin Dunne:

Brother Kevin Dunne was a member of the Franciscan religious order. According to media reports, in 2004, he was named in a civil lawsuit alleging he had sexually abused a student at St. Anthony Seminary in Santa Barbara from 1970 to 1971. 

As of 2007, Brother Dunne was living in a retreat house near Monterey. A civil suit filed in 2009 alleged that despite the Franciscan order knowing that he raped a St. Anthony’s student, he was transferred to St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix where he lived with other order members.  His current whereabouts are unknown.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest or other Catholic clergy in California State, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Los Angeles and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or to discuss your options today.

Boy Scout Leaders and Clergymen Have More in Common Than You May Know

Like many clergy, Scout leaders are often thought of as selfless men, generously sharing their time and talent with youngsters.

Like many clergy, they often have seemingly legitimate reasons to be alone with kids.

Like many clergy, Scout leaders belong to a rigid, male-dominated, hierarchical group.

Like many clergy, they are often seen as ‘good influences’ on kids, especially troubled kids.

Like many clergy, they often wear decorated uniforms that enhance their seemingly superior images.

Like many clergy, Scout leaders sometimes posture as ‘pillars of the community,’ which makes reporting wrongdoing even tougher.

Like many clergy, Scout leaders care deeply about their institution and its reputation and public relations.

Like many clergy, Scout leaders are surrounded by peers and superiors who feel a strong temptation to ignore, hide or minimize wrongdoing.

And tragically, like many clergy, many Scout leaders have hurt the children they purportedly serve, leaving deep and permanent scars.

Almost as tragically, like many clergy, many Scout leaders were known or suspected child molesters but were left in place by colleagues and supervisors who found it easier to ‘hear no, speak no, see no’ evil, rather than courageously confront, report and stop evil in their midst.

The result: thousands of devastated lives and stolen childhoods and avoidable lifelong suffering.

Just how widespread is all this? “The Boy Scouts have long kept confidential files on volunteers who were credibly accused of abuse. One expert hired by the organization found that there had been nearly 8,000 complaints over a span of decades,” reports the New York Times.

The dam began to break more than a decade ago, when a brave man, Kerry Lewis found a brave attorney, Kelly Clark. (Clark has since passed away, without seeing the full fruit of his ground-breaking work to expose wrongdoing in Scouting).

According to one news account, Lewis “said he had been molested by an assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes, in the early 1980s. Mr. Dykes, who had served time for child abuse, had admitted to a Mormon bishop that he had molested several scouts. The bishop alerted the families of Mr. Dykes’s victims but did not warn the other boys in the troop or the authorities. Mr. Dykes was soon able to volunteer with the Scouts again.”

“They knew that their charismatic assistant scout leader Timur Dykes, to whom kids flocked like bees to honey, had admitted to molesting 17 scouts, including Cub Scouts,” said Mr. Clark.

Then, exactly a decade ago, the pair won this pivotal case at the Oregon Supreme Court.

“Crucial to the suit’s success were more than 12,000 pages of internal Boy Scout documents that implicated more than 1,200 scout leaders in sexual abuse from 1965 to 1985,” wrote the New York Times. “They also revealed an organizational practice of handling such accusations internally and minimizing publicity. Lawyers for the Boy Scouts said the files were kept confidential to protect the victims.

Two years later, news organizations, including The Oregonian, The Associated Press and The New York Times, demanded that the files be made public. The Boy Scouts filed a motion to prevent their release, but the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the public had a right to see them.

Thousands of victims have since stepped forward, taking back the power that was ripped from them as boys.

How has the national Scouting organization responded to this flood of long-overdue abuse and cover up lawsuits?

Sadly, like Catholic officials, it has cried ‘bankruptcy,’ and is exploiting Chapter 11 laws to evade responsibility and keep the truth concealed.

Still, those who were betrayed and abused in Scout troops and camps across the U.S. can achieve some measure of justice, healing and closure through the legal process.

We at Horowitz Law already represent over two hundred former Scouts making abuse claims in the bankruptcy court against the Boys Scouts of America. We stand ready to help you too.

Horowitz Law is Now Investigating Cases Involving Alan Morris and the Boy Scouts

Alan Richard Morris Horowitz law

In January 1987, Alan Richard Morris pleaded guilty in a Florida court to multiple counts of sexual misconduct involving four young boys.  Morris, an Assistant Scoutmaster and Webelos Den Leader with the Boy Scouts of America, often held “special” Boy Scout meetings at his home where he would show his Scouts pornography and teach them to masturbate.  Sometimes, Morris brought boys into a separate room to engage them in more serious sexual contact.

According to court documents, Morris was charged for incidents occurring between July 1985 and March 1986.  The victims identified in the charging documents ranged in age from 12 to 15.  They were all members of Boy Scout Troop 86, chartered by the First Baptist Church in Cape Coral.

Morris, a married father of five children at the time, told his victims that his wife would leave him or divorce him if she found out about the misconduct.  He swore them to secrecy by making them think that they would all get in trouble if anyone found out.

An arrest warrant was issued for Morris in the summer of 1986, but he fled to Maine before he could be arrested by Florida law enforcement.  He was eventually arrested in Maine and extradited back to Cape Coral to stand trial in August 1986.

According to the Boy Scouts’ secret Ineligible Volunteer (IV) file for Morris, he resided at 1618 Viscaya Parkway in Cape Coral at the time of the misconduct.  Morris’ IV file was one of many files that a Court ordered the Boy Scouts to produce in a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts for sexual abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020 as a result of numerous lawsuits filed against it for sexual abuse of children by Scoutmasters and others.  Horowitz Law represents victims of Alan Morris and many other adult volunteers in the bankruptcy proceeding.  We can help you too, but you must contact us today to discuss your options.  Strict filing deadlines have now been set by the bankruptcy court and if you miss the deadlines, you may miss out on your very last chance to hold the Boy Scouts accountable for what happened to you.  Contact us now.

Attorney Adam Horowitz and his team of attorneys handle sexual abuse cases against the Boy Scouts of America at both the local and national level in your state and nationwide.  If you or someone you know was molested during their participation in the Boy Scouts, email Horowitz Law or call us toll-free at (888) 283-9922 now.  The Boy Scouts have filed for federal bankruptcy protection.  Strict filing deadlines have been set by the United States Bankruptcy Court.  Do not risk missing out on your very last chance to hold the Boy Scouts accountable for its misconduct and deliberate decisions to put boys like you at risk.