When the state's Child Victims Act allows older sex abuse lawsuits to be filed on Aug. 14, a prominent lawyer against Catholic Church abusers said he will be filing lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America.
Lawyer Jeff Anderson said more and more internal files of the Boy Scouts are surfacing, known within the organization as the "Perversion Files": Boy Scout registrations that were revoked because of allegations of child sexual abuse.
"We know that in New York, as we reviewed these files and distilled this information, there are 130 in New York alone," Anderson said about perpetrators in the files that have been made available so far. Of those 130, 14 of them are in Western New York.
Anderson released the names of the individuals from Boy Scout files, but with no indication as to when each case occurred. The Boy Scouts began keeping these records about 1920, although it is not clear whether what has been released goes back that far.
The files are probably not complete because of litigation across the country in recent years.
“These numbers are staggering and tragic,” said Anderson. “We believe that the actual numbers of Boy Scout perpetrators and victims are much higher, unfortunately. We call on the Boy Scouts to publicly release the names and files of all Boy Scout perpetrators.”
WBFO is withholding the names of alleged perpetrators in Western New York until we can confirm them with the Boy Scouts. Of what has been released, the files show nearly 8,000 perpetrators and more than 12,000 victims.
Trusha Patel Goffe, an associate with Anderson's firm, said University of Virginia Professor Janet Warren has been studying insider information about abuse in scouting during the years 1944-2016.
"She has been hired by the Boy Scouts to look at these files and for the last five years, she's gathered information, information about over 12,000 victims and these perpetrators and coded that information," Patel Goffe said, "and this is information that the Boy Scouts has and has had for several years and is information that they're keeping secret."
Anderson said once cases are filed, the Boy Scouts' national office - where the files are kept - will be required to open all the files and likely more perpetrators and more victim names will surface.
Counselor and victim Bridie Farrell said belief in the victim after coming forward is important because she was not, after abuse by an Olympic athlete.
"Andy Gabel. The following day in the Chicago Tribune he acknowledged it - and nothing happened," Farrell said. "I was maybe 30 or so when I came forward and to me that message said, anyone that speaks up, nothing's gonna happen. So, to me, that made the situation worse."
In a statement, lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who is handling victims of sexual abuse in Western New York, said he is also handling "about 20 sexual abuse victims who were sexually abused as minors by Boy Scout leaders" in Massachusetts. Garabedian said he has handled cases involving Catholic priests who would attend Boy Scout meetings and abuse children.