Army doctor to sue Boy Scouts over sex abuse

Lawsuit claims Scouts concealed abuse

SAM DIEGO - An Army doctor will file a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America Wednesday, Team 10 learned.

The lawsuit will be filed by the Zalkin Law Firm on behalf of Drew Belnap, who claims he suffered abuse as a child at the hands of a scoutmaster known to abuse children.

Belnap's abuser, John Atwood, is now a registered sex offender. Atwood was convicted of molesting Belnap and served time in prison.

Belnap, who is an anesthesiologist in the U.S. Army, said the lawsuit is not about money.

"I want to keep the attention on the Boy Scouts to toughen up their enforcement and protect our youth," Belnap said.

Belnap said he saw Team 10's reporting on how the Boy Scouts kept thousands of secret files detailing alleged sexual abuse inside scouting. Team 10 found the Boy Scouts had a file on Atwood before Belnap was abused.

Belnap was molested in 1991 near the Lost Valley Scout camp, which is east of Temecula. Belnap's attorney, Irwin Zalkin, claims the statute of limitations has not run out on a civil case over the abuse because of Belnap's military service.

"Drew suffered horrendous abuse, all the more tragic because it was so easily preventable," Zalkin said.

The San Diego County prosecutor who sent Atwood to prison for Belnap's molestation told Team 10 the Boy Scouts never told authorities about the abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America have apologized to victims and claim the secret files, known as ineligible volunteer files, were used as an internal control to keep undesirable scout leaders out of scouting.

Belnap is the third person to file a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court since Team 10 first exposed the Boy Scouts of America's files.

Belnap continues to volunteer with a local troop near his home in Colorado.

"I know of all the people who are going to look out for these kids, it's going to be me," he said.

The Boy Scouts have refused to comment specifically on active litigation, however did provide the following statement previously:

"While we cannot comment on active litigation, the abuse of anyone, especially a child, is intolerable and we extend our deepest sympathies to anyone who may be a victim of this type of behavior. The Boy Scouts of America takes the protection of youth very seriously, which is why we have continuously enhanced our mulch-tiered policies and procedures. The BSA's comprehensive youth protection program includes education, chartered organization leader selection procedures, criminal background and other checks, barriers to abuse and prompt mandatory reporting."

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