Boys Scouts settles several abuse cases

LAWSUIT: The Boy Scouts of America building in Upper Tumon is shown. The Boy Scouts settled several of the sex abuse lawsuits filed on Guam. Post file photo

The Boy Scouts of America are arguing the child sex abuse cases filed against them should be dismissed because, under Guam law, claims past the statute of limitations cannot be filed against the organization as a third party.

Attorney Pat Civille, who represents the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council Chamorro District, informed Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan he would be filing a motion for dismissal in the cases.

The motion was filed late yesterday afternoon and details the Boy Scouts' argument that, as a third party, the law that opened up past claims of abuse against abusers cannot be used to revive claims against it.

According to court documents, not only does the "plain language" of Public Law 33-187 not allow such claims to be revived against the Boy Scouts, but if it did, Civille argues the law would "violate their rights to due process of law."

‘Such ancient charges’

"Plaintiff's claims turn on allegations of abuse from 1961 and 1962 and allegations of negligence dating back to 1941," according to the Boy Scouts' motion to dismiss. "Any defendant would find it hard to answer such ancient charges. But (the Boy Scouts) Aloha Council and other institutional defendants would face an inherently greater unfairness, because an alleged abuse, unlike an organization, will always have at least his own recollections and the possibility of his own testimony as a basis for responding to the charges against him. ... A volunteer-led, locally organized group like the Boy Scouts is even less likely to have the extensive records needed to determine what actually took place between its local volunteers and juvenile members half a century ago."

Though the Boy Scouts' motion to dismiss has been filed in court, the judge will not hear any arguments on it or the other motions to dismiss filed by the Archdiocese of Agana until dealing with the more pressing issue of whether the court even has jurisdiction to hear the cases at all.

Prosecutor David Lujan is expected to file a position paper on the matter of jurisdiction no later than June 2. He has told the media he expects he will not be able to establish jurisdiction in all of the cases, but that he will simply file such cases in the local courts instead.