Women from 1970's rape case target Boy Scouts of America, Montan - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Women from 1970's rape case target Boy Scouts of America, Montana Council

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A sexual assault case dating back to the 1970's is resurfacing again this week in Great Falls. But this time, the six women allegedly involved as children are going after Boy Scouts of America, in what one attorney says could be the first time a fraud claim against the Boy Scouts has gone to a jury.

"I think it’s important for people to realize…when the Boy Scouts now want to bring in girls, into their Cub Scout program, that the Boy Scouts have let girls be a part of the Boy Scouts program since 1971,” says the Plaintiffs’ attorney, Gilion Dumas. “And before they open up the program to girls even younger, they really need to come clean about their history of sex abuse of both boys and girls in scouting."

And with that, six adult women, three of them still in Montana, and the other three sisters, are going after the Boy Scouts of America and the Montana Council. The case first began in Kalispell in the 1970's, when the victims, then just young girls, attended a coed Explorer Scout group. The girls, as young as 11 and 12 years old, were sexually molested by their leader, Bill Leininger.

Leininger was convicted of rape and died while in prison at the age of 80.

Move to present day, and the victims are ready to take their case, first filed in 2011, a step further, claiming negligence, fraud, and punitive damages.

"Unfortunately these women can't sue to get their childhoods back or their innocence back, because they lost that back in the 1970s when their scout master raped them and molested them. They can only sue for money,” says Dumas.

The punitive damages alone could mean up to $10 million per victim.

In pre-trial rulings last week, District Judge James Reynolds found that the Boy Scouts of America had a duty "as a matter of law" to protect girls in the program from a foreseeable risk of sexual assault.

The case can now go forward to trial beginning November 27th. Dumas, who is based out of Portland, Oregon, says this would be the first time a fraud claim against the Boy Scouts has gone to a jury. Dumas says that fraud claim is based on the theory that Boy Scouts deceived the plaintiffs and their parents.

"The Boy Scouts for years represented to people like the Plaintiffs and their parents that Scout Masters and Scout Leaders were trustworthy and of high moral character. And at the same time they concealed the danger of child abuse that the Boy Scouts knew about because they had been keeping files on men who they had kicked out of scouts for molesting children,” Dumas says.

Those files, also known as the “Ineligible Volunteer Files,” or IV Files, will be used as evidence in the upcoming trial, despite the Boy Scouts’ motion to exclude them. Dumas says as many as 900 of the files exist, and date back to when the Boy Scouts was first founded in 1910.

The IV Files were also used in evidence in a 2010 sex abuse trial against the Boy Scouts in Portland, which Dumas was also a part of. She says that case resulted in a $19.9 million verdict for the Plaintiff.  ?

Mediation for the case is scheduled for this Thursday in Great Falls.

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