SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - A former North County Boy Scout said he is one of hundreds of sexual abuse victims in a new lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America.
Matt, who only wanted to use his first name, joined the Boy Scouts when he was around 13 years old. He really loved the outdoor activities.
“We had a lot of great trips… a lot of good camp outs,” Matt said. Roughly a year after he joined, things changed.
“We had an assistant Scoutmaster that started to join us on trips,” Matt said. “He just started spending more time with kids and a lot of these bad things started to happen.”
The new lawsuit alleging sexual abuse was filed on behalf of one former scout in Pennsylvania. The total number of alleged victims in this latest wave of accusations is more than 850, according to attorney Andrew Van Arsdale. Matt is one of them.
“Our oldest [alleged victim] is in his late 80s. Our youngest is 14-years-old,” Van Arsdale 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.
“It’s time to come forward. It’s the right time now and the response was overwhelming,” Van Arsdale said. He said he is “100 percent” expecting more people to come forward.
For Matt, time has not healed all wounds of what he said the assistant Scoutmaster did to him.
“He had come at me on multiple times. I think the first time, I was able to get him away from me,” Matt said. He was able to get away the first time, but not every time. He specifically remembers a camping trip in Camp Pendleton.
“I woke up and he had gotten his hands on my genitals and massaging me… I woke up and pushed him off,” Matt said. “I think I just really kind of put it at the back of my head and just tried to forget about it.”
But he didn’t forget and he said other kids in his troop were also abused by this man. In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America said that they “believe victims” and that the organization has “taken significant steps over many years to ensure that we respond aggressively and effectively to reports of sexual abuse.” The full statement can be read here .
For some, it’s too little too late.
“They knew it was a problem for a long time,” Van Arsdale said.
“Anytime you got kids with adults having access to kids, you better make sure those adults are reliable, good people. And I don’t know that the scouts are doing that now. I would hope they are, but I know back in the day they weren’t,” Matt said.
Matt said he quit because of that assistant Scoutmaster. So far there are eight former scouts in San Diego that are part of these latest allegations against the organization, according to Van Arsdale.