The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ook bekend as die Mormon kerk, is facing at least seven new lawsuits that accuse it of playing a role in covering up sex abuse onder Boy Scout troops in Arizona.
Vroeër die jaar, the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy amid tienduisende of sexual abuse lawsuits implicating troop leaders and other volunteers in incidents stretching back decades. Accusers’ current ages range from 8 aan 93.
“The Boy Scouts filing for bankruptcy doesn’t end the investigation, as far as who knew what was going on, as far as these little kids being abused in scouting, when they knew it, and what they should have done to stop it,” attorney Mark McKenna told Fox News Tuesday.
His law firm, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, is representing dozens of victims. In addition to the seven new lawsuits, it also has pursued cases against local scouting councils, and a number of Roman Catholic dioceses and archdioceses in similar Scout abuse cases across multiple states.
The new lawsuits allege that Mormon officials ignored reports of abuse from youths, and that troop leaders and volunteers remained in the Scouts organization despite allegations against them.
“It’s only because of their (the church’s) sponsorship of these troops that families felt comfortable in trusting their kids to these Scout leaders, and that was a recipe for disaster,” McKenna said.
The new cases were filed just ahead of Arizona’s end-of-year deadline for adult victims of child sex abuse to sue, according to the law firm. Each lawsuit is based on a separate male victim.
The church is accused of telling the victims to keep their accusations to themselves as officials conducted their own investigations.
Sam Penrod, a spokesman for the LDS, denied the accusations and said the church has no tolerance for any kind of abuse. He told the Associated Press that it would evaluate and address the claims.
The plaintiffs are hoping to learn through court discovery whether LDS officials had access to the Boy Scouts’ ineligible volunteer files, documents that listed the names of alleged abusers, McKenna said.
“We believe though, there are instances where troops are sponsored by the LDS church, especially in places like California, Arizona, Utah and that troop leaders, in addition to being volunteers working in the troop, are also deacons in the LDS church…and that the bishops were aware of who these deacons were and had a responsibility for making sure that these scout leaders in troops sponsored by the LDS church were not abusing kids,” hy het gesê.
The Mormon church and the Scouts had been closely tied for decades, before a high-profile split last year. The church pulled 400,000 of its members from the Boy Scouts as the youth organization faced heightened scrutiny, a slew of sex abuse lawsuits, and when the Scouts recently embraced openly gay and transgender members.
Fox News’ David Aaro and the Associated Press contributed to this report.