Boys still sexually abused by Scout volunteers despite reforms, arrest suggests

He played Santa Claus at a charity Christmas breakfast. He volunteered at tree plantings and neighborhood clean-ups. He worked the pancake breakfast to raise money for Boy Scout programs in low-income Long Beach schools.

“I love to help,” says Lewis Brownson’s Facebook page by way of introduction.

Brownson, 43, has been feted in the city’s “Sparks of Change Neighborhood Leadership Program” for his contributions and hard work. But, in an agonizingly common twist, the Boy Scout leader was arrested June 16 on two counts of lewd acts upon a child under age 14, with an allegation of multiple victims, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

“The Boy Scouts say they’ve put safeguards in place, that abuse is a problem of the past,” said Andrew VanArsdale, a lead attorney with “But we represent the families of children who were abused in the past year, the past two years.

“If the Boy Scouts of America has proven anything over its history, it’s that they allowed this to happen and never cared enough to stop it.”

So far, AIS represents more than 4,500 men and boys who say they were abused in Scouting. The oldest is 93. The youngest is 8.

Filed for bankruptcy

The iconic, national Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February as hundreds of lawsuits piled up from men who said they were sexually abused by BSA Scoutmasters and volunteers as children. The bankruptcy court set a Nov. 16 deadline for men to file a notice of claims against the organization, or lose the right to seek redress.

“The fact that there’s a bar date just a couple of months out that forever cuts off the accountability of the BSA is one of the most important things we need to think about right now,” said Mike Reck, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates, which represents hundreds of alleged victims. “That’s a very important date for survivors.”

Stepping forward is excruciatingly difficult for many men, who’ve been carrying their pain and shame in silence for decades, the attorneys say. Only a small percentage of victims will likely come forward, but there can be great relief — and perhaps a measure of justice — from speaking out.

“I remember the terror,” said Gill Gayle, 58, an actor and producer in Los Angeles who said he was abused by two Scout leaders in Tennessee as a boy. “There was this fear of being discovered, so everything from that moment forward really became, ironically, about creating a way to protect what happened. I didn’t want anyone to find out. Ever. No matter wh...

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