A Sussex County man who killed the Boy Scout leader who he said raped him is now suing the organization, saying it marketed itself as wholesome and safe while concealing an "infiltration" of pedophiles.
The Boy Scouts of America failed in its duties to identify pedophiles, stop them from abusing young boys, alert law enforcement, warn parents or institute a zero-tolerance policy involving charges of sex abuse, alleges a lawsuit filed by Clark Fredericks against the BSA.
The organization, based in Irving, Texas, issued a statement in response ( see below ).
Fredericks, 54, served five years in state prison for stabbing Dennis Pegg 30 times in 2012, killing him, in what he said was retaliation for Pegg raping him when he was a 12-year-old scout in Stillwater.
Fredericks, who pleaded guilty to passion provocation/manslaughter in exchange for leniency, is now a motivational speaker who has fought the stigma that often prevents sexual abuse victims from healing.
He also has campaigned to lengthen statutes of limitations for victims and alleged victims to file lawsuits such as his.
The Scouts “market the wholesomeness and safety of their programs to the American public,” says Fredericks’s complaint, filed Monday in Superior Court in Newton. “Yet, the BSA has concealed from scouts and their parents its knowledge that pedophiles have been infiltrating the BSA in large numbers for many years.”
The organization also “misrepresented to scouts and their parents that scouts were safe in scouting programs when, in fact, scouts were at an unreasonably heightened risk of sexual abuse by adult Scout leaders, Masters or other volunteer/agents,” it says.
Before 1972, the organization knew that leaders, masters and other adults “were being used by predatory child molesters to victimize children” and that the Boy Scouts “had an institution-wide child sexual abuse problem,” the suit filed by Fredericks claims.
One of them, it says, was Dennis Pegg, a former Sussex County correction officer.
Given Pegg’s history, he “should have been deemed ineligible to hold a position” with the organization, it contends.
Instead, it says, the Boy Scouts “selected and accepted him into their programs and permitted him to educate, mentor, befriend, counsel and train young boys [such as Fredericks] in morality, patriotism and various life skills.”
Fredericks, who was a scout from 1972 to 1978, says he joined up after his brother.
Pegg, a scout master, quickly “gained access to [Fredericks] and beg[a]n grooming him for sexual abuse…during scouting trips, outings, camp outs and other activities,” the suit charges.
The then-young Fredericks “was conditioned to trust Pegg, to comply with his direction and to respect him as a person of authority in moral an ethical matters,” it says.
In turn, the suit alleges, Pegg “repeatedly sexually abused [him] while he and or family members were participating in scouting programs.”
This was “committed in direct connection with his position and agency with [the Boy Scouts], was done while serving [their] interests…and was done at the direction of, and pursuant to, the power vested in him by [the organization],” the suit charges.
The Boy Scouts “failed to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in supervising Pegg,” it charges.
As a result, Fredericks “has suffered and will continue to suffer severe and debilitating physical, mental and emotional injuries, emotional trauma [and] permanent psychological damage. [H]e has and in the future incur costs for counseling, psychiatric and psychological treatment,” the lawsuit contends.
It also says he has “lost quality of life” and “has been unable to attend to his ordinarily employment or affairs, and has otherwise been damaged.”
The suit filed by Fredericks seeks unspecified damages, along with interest and legal costs.
RESPONSE from the BOY SCOUTS of AMERICA:
"First and foremost, we care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement.
"The BSA has taken significant steps over many years to ensure that we respond aggressively and effectively to reports of sexual abuse. We believe victims and remove individuals based on only allegations of inappropriate behavior. We recognize, however, that there were some instances in our organization’s history when cases were not addressed in a manner consistent with our commitment to protect Scouts, the values of our organization, and the procedures we have in place today.
"The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs – it is our top priority. The BSA has a multi-layered process of safeguards informed by experts, including the following, all of which act as barriers to abuse: a leadership policy that requires at least two youth-protection trained adults be present with youth at all times and bans one-on-one situations where adults would have any interactions alone with children – either in person, online, or via text; a thorough screening process for adult leaders and staff including criminal background checks, and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.
"The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline ( 1-844-726-8871 ) and email contact address ( email@example.com ) to access counseling and help needed to report any suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.
"We steadfastly believe that one incident of abuse is one too many and we are continually improving all of our policies to prevent abuse. This is precisely why we fully support and advocate for the creation of a national registry overseen by a governmental entity, similar to the national sex offender registry, of those who are suspected of child abuse or inappropriate behavior with a child, thus allowing all youth-serving organizations to share and access such information. We call upon Congress and other youth- serving organizations to support this initiative.
"For more information about the BSA’s youth protection policies, please visit: www.scouting.org/youth-safety .
"Beyond this, we cannot comment on pending litigation."
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