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County man alleges abuse by scout leader

A local man claims he was sexually abused by a former Boy Scout leader in the early 1980s in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed this week in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County.

The lawsuit names the Allegheny Highlands Council Inc., French Creek Council, Boy Scouts of America and the First Presbyterian Church as defendants.

The victim, who is not being named, claims he was abused by Jordy Reagan, a scout leader and volunteer, around 1982 when he was about 12 years old. According to attorney Michael Pfau of the Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis, Amala Law Firm, the abuse took place at a scout camp, identified in the lawsuit as “Camp Mertz.”

“We represent 600 victims of abuse, 100 in New York, and there really is a disproportionate number of children who were abused at scout camps,” Pfau said. “The governor passed the Child Victims Act, which has allowed abuse victims to come forward.”

Pfau noted that the victim’s allegations follow a predictable pattern by scout leaders found to have abused victims in past decades. He said in many instances, scout leaders preyed on many victims during camp outings with limited supervision and without parents.

“Jordy Reagan used his position of trust and authority as a scout leader and volunteer of the defendants to groom plaintiff and to sexually abuse him, including during a Boy Scout camping trip when plaintiff was under the supervision of, and in the care, custody, or control of, the defendants” the lawsuit states.

Added Pfau: ” This lawsuit speaks for itself. … The way the BSA vetted scout leaders played a big role in the abuse of the scouts.”

The county man is being represented by the New York City-based Marsh Law Firm and the Seattle-based Pfau and Cochran Law Firm.

“The defendants knew or should have known that Jordy Reagan was likely to sexually abuse children, including plaintiff,” the suit claims, later adding that the victim “sustained physical and psychological injuries, including but not limited to severe emotional and psychological distress, humiliation, fright, dissociation, anger, depression, anxiety, family turmoil and loss of faith.”

When reached for comment regarding the lawsuit, the Boy Scouts of America released the following statement:

“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 programs to abuse innocent children. We believe victims, we support them, and we encourage them to come forward.

“The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to equitably 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 for years to come. In order to meet these dual objectives, the national organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and our plan is to use this Chapter 11 process to create a Trust that would provide fair and equitable compensation to victims.

“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 interaction 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 to law enforcement. The BSA also offers a 24/7 Scouts First Helpline (1-844-SCOUTS1) and email contact address (scouts1st@scouting.org) for help reporting suspected abuse or inappropriate behavior.”

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