Local scoutmaster, Highlands Council named in suit

The Allegheny Highlands Council Inc. Boy Scouts of America, Donald C. Shriver of Lakewood and the Boy Scouts of America Inc., Irving, Texas, are being sued in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday, the plaintiff is the parent and natural guardian of a now-14-year-old who began participating in a scouting program organized, supervised and established by the Allegheny Highlands Council and Boy Scouts of America when the child was 6. From Aug. 18-20, 2017, the youth and other members of the Lakewood troop attended an event known as the Gold Rush at Camp Chickasaw in Meadville, Pa. Shriver volunteered to transport youth to the camp and accompany the troop. While at Camp Chickasaw, the lawsuit alleges Shriver arranged to have the youth sleep in a lean-to or shack with Shriver and that Shriver allegedly sexually molested and abused the youth while the youth was trying to sleep.

“Allegheny and BSA allowed and permitted Shriver to segregate (the youth) and sleep with him in the lean-to or shack described above and failed to instruct or direct Shriver that such sleeping arrangements were improper,” the lawsuit states.

The suit was filed by Fredonia attorney Daryl Brautigam.

“Someone should have been alerted to the possibility that problems could occur,” Brautigam said in an interview in regards to a scoutmaster being alone with a child.

He said of the victim: “He’s been abused, and his trust in the system has been shattered.”

Shriver was charged with third-degree felony charges of corruption of minors and unlawful contact with minor — sexual offenses. In addition, Shriver faced first-degree misdemeanor charges of indecent assault of a person less than 13, endangering the welfare of children and criminal attempt at indecent assault of a person less than 13.

Shriver eventually pleaded guilty in June in the Crawford County Orphans Court to charges of corruption of minors and was sentenced to 11 to 24 months, less one day, in the Crawford County Jail and five years probation. He was also sentenced to pay a $150 fine, court costs and have no contact with minor children unless they are biologically related to him, according to the Meadville Tribune.

The lawsuit has seven causes of action:

¯ the Allegheny Highlands Council and Boy Scouts of America negligently failed to use due care in selecting Shriver as a scout leader and didn’t fully investigate his background or propensities;

¯ failed to use due care in training Shriver as a scout leader;

¯ failed to use due care in supervising Shriver in his duties and activities as scout leader;

¯ failed to use due care in educating, warning and training the youth and other scouts about sexual abuse and protecting themselves;

¯ failed to protect the youth from physical and sexual abuse;

¯ that, as a result of battery Shriver committed against the youth, the youth has sustained serious and permanent injuries; and

¯ because of the injuries the youth has sustained, the youth’s parents will be required to furnish counseling and other rehabilitative services to the youth for which the parents say they should be reimbursed.

In February, the Allegheny Highlands Council held a members-only meeting regarding Youth Protection training, services that equips parents and leaders with the tools necessary to address suspected abuse, inappropriate behavior and bullying. The meeting took place days after charges against Shriver were announced.

Nate Thornton, the council’s scout executive, said at the time that Shriver had immediately been removed from scouting once the allegations surfaced.

“This individual’s behavior is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” he said in February. “Upon learning of these reports in late 2017, we removed this individual and prohibited him from any future participation in the Boy Scouts of America. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs — it is our top priority. The BSA is outraged there have been times when scouts were abused, and we sincerely apologize to victims and their families.”

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