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New legal action planned against Boy Scouts

Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 21:02:56-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A new law in New Jersey could have an impact on San Diegans who claim they were sexually abused in the Boy Scouts.

Attorneys with the law firm PCVA say they plan to bring new cases under New Jersey's new statute of limitations and window when the new law goes into effect on December 1, 2019.

They say the new law will allow survivors in California and other states to file suit against the Boy Scouts for any abuse that occurred during the 30 years that that organization was based in New Jersey.

"We intend to hold the Boy Scouts accountable under this new Jersey law because the organization knew for decades while its headquarters was based in New Jersey, that thousands of scout leaders had used their position to groom and sexually abuse children," said attorney Michael Pfau.

10News asked San Diego attorney Andrew Van Arsdale how the new law makes it possible for alleged survivors outside of New Jersey to file a legal claim in that state.

"Their theory is New Jersey was home to this corporate entity for a period of 25 years so during that period of 25 years no matter where that abuse occurred in the country the corporate entity existed in New Jersey, we can sue that corporate entity in new jersey," he said.

Van Arsdale is one of the lawyers involved in the group "Abused in Scouting." The group came together after hearing the Boy Scouts were potentially filing for bankruptcy. They began a campaign telling victims that they no longer have to be in hiding.

"By going to the states or areas where these defendants are incorporated that's a way to get at them," Van Arsdale said. "If these guys out of Seattle are correct and New Jersey was the home of the organization for a period of time they should be able to get them. The same way we're using Washington D.C. to file 1,100 of our lawsuits."

Lawmakers in California are attempting to pass a similar version of New Jersey's new law. Assembly Bill 218 was introduced earlier this year by San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez.

According to the online text, "This bill would expand the definition of childhood sexual abuse, which would instead be referred to as childhood sexual assault. This bill would increase the time limit for commencing an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to 22 years from the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within 5 years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual assault, whichever is later. This bill would also provide for the recovery of up to treble damages against certain defendants in these actions, and would revive time-lapsed claims in certain circumstances."

On Tuesday Gonzalez sent a series of tweets regarding the bill writing, "A moment on our #AB218 easing the statue of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse: I know that school districts are worried that they may be sued. And that will cost public education in the state. I can't say that won't happen. If they covered up the abuse they will be held liable. And they should be. That's the only way we will stop the pattern of abuse that institutions have been covering up for decades. Inaction by sports clubs, schools, churches, Boy Scouts, boys & girls clubs have allowed perpetrators to continue to create new victims. This has to stop. It's time we take child sexual abuse seriously. The threat of pay outs may finally cause these institutions to change."

Late Tuesday afternoon 10News wrote the Boy Scouts of America asking for a comment. As of this writing we have not heard back.