Former Boy Scouts who sued BSA, LDS church talk about abuse
BY CYNTHIA SEWELL, Idaho Statesman, May 11, 2017
More than 20 men have filed lawsuits in Idaho alleging they were sexually abused in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s while participating in Boy Scout activities. Recently released confidential files show that both institutions were aware of the problems.
For the second time in his life, Riley Gilroy is turning to the courts to right a wrong.
The first time was when he was 9 years old and his mother, a single parent in Caldwell, thought he needed a male role model.
She asked around for recommended youth programs. Caldwell’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 4th Ward recommended the Boy Scouts — Scouting has been a sanctioned LDS program for nearly 100 years, and the church is Idaho’s largest sponsor of it.
Gilroy and his best friend joined the ward’s Cub Scout den in 1982.
“That’s where I met Jim Schmidt who, over a period of time, proceeded to molest me and other Cub Scouts,” Gilroy said.
For Gilroy and more than two dozen men growing up in Idaho in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, the world of Boy Scout merit badges, camping trips and weekly meetings with friends dissolved into sexual and emotional abuse, confusion and secrets.
Many of the accused Scout leaders were later convicted of lewd conduct for these or similar incidents. Their victims, now middle-aged, have sued the Boy Scouts and LDS church in civil court for fraud — alleging both organizations knew of the child molesters but covered up the danger, allowing it to continue.
The most recent lawsuit was filed May 1 by Gilroy and four other men. Three chose to remain anonymous and are only identified in the lawsuit as John Does XX through XXII.
Court documents lay out the victims’ accusations. Two were willing to tell the Statesman their stories in their own words.
A case twice fought
Schmidt, a volunteer with the Ore-Ida Council of Boy Scouts, had been sexually, physically and emotionally abusing Gilroy for more than a year.
One day, Gilroy walked into his 5th-grade class.
“Somebody was talking about a camping trip that weekend with Jim Schmidt and the Scouts and said, ‘I do not like that man. He tried to do some stuff in your sleeping bag,’” Gilroy said. “That quote stuck with me my whole life because when I heard that, that is when the bells went off. That’s when I realized what he was doing was not right.”
Gilroy told his mother what had been happening and the family went to the police. Schmidt, who was 38 and lived in Nampa, was arrested in February 1983 on two felony charges of lewd conduct with a minor.
Police interviewed 16 Scouts and their parents and documented an undisclosed number of cases in which Schmidt engaged in sex acts with juveniles, said Lansing Haynes, a Canyon County deputy prosecutor, in a 1983 Statesman report. Several incidents took place during Boy Scout outings, others happened at Schmidt’s home.
Haynes said a competency evaluation by state Health and Welfare officials found Schmidt had “acute pedophilia.”
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.