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Man sues Boy Scouts over alleged abuse from 1970s

Carl Maxwell Jr. charges that officials ignored teenagers' accusations and covered up sexual abuse by Rodger L. Beatty, who died in November.

May 03, 2013|By Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times
  • Carl Maxwell Jr., at the kitchen table in his mother's home in Newport, Pa., reviews the Boy Scouts of America's confidential file detailing the alleged abuse he and four other members of Troop 222 were subjected to by Scoutmaster Rodger L. Beatty in 1976.
Carl Maxwell Jr., at the kitchen table in his mother's home in Newport,… (Kim Christensen, Los Angeles…)

A Pennsylvania man on Friday sued the Boy Scouts of America, alleging that the youth organization failed to protect him from sexual abuse by a Scoutmaster nearly 37 ago and then covered it up.

Carl Maxwell Jr. was one of five boys, ages 13 and 14, who came forward in July 1976 to accuse Rodger L. Beatty of repeatedly molesting them at the man's home and on camping trips, according to records in the Scouts' confidential files on alleged sexual abuse.

Despite the boys' detailed, handwritten statements to Scouting officials in Newport, Pa., they allowed Beatty to resign and quietly leave town without reporting him to the police, the Los Angeles Times reported in October. The Times' account was based on the Scouting records and interviews with Maxwell and others who corroborated his story.

"All of us boys — two of them's dead now — but all of us were scarred, and scarred for life by that," Maxwell said last fall, referring to Beatty's alleged abuse. "And he got away with that."

In his lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Maxwell alleged that local Scouting officials in the summer of 1976 assured him and his parents that the matter was "in the right hands" and that they would pursue legal action against Beatty.

Instead, the officials did nothing, the complaint alleges, "because they did not want to discuss Beatty's sexual abuse publicly and wanted to conceal to the public and all legal and law enforcement authorities that Beatty's acts of sexual abuse ... were permitted to occur."

Officials also misled Maxwell into believing that he had "no other legal course of action" against Beatty, the complaint states. In part because of the Scouts' "fraudulent concealment," Pennsylvania's statute of limitations does not bar Maxwell's lawsuit, said his attorney, Alexander Palamarchuk.

Beatty went on to become a University of Pittsburgh social worker, educator and AIDS researcher. He died in November at the age of 66 after suffering a massive stroke in September. The Times had tried to contact him weeks before he fell ill, but he did not respond to messages.

Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said Friday that officials had not seen Maxwell's complaint and could not comment on it.

Maxwell, 50, is seeking unspecified damages.

The Scouts' confidential files have been used for nearly a century to keep suspected molesters out of its ranks. Beatty's records are among nearly 1,900 such files The Times has reviewed in the last year. The files show that hundreds of suspected molesters, many of them respected members of their communities, were never reported to authorities.

Courts in California and Texas have ordered more recent files turned over to attorneys in civil lawsuits, but not made public.

kim.christensen@latimes.com

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