The Boy Scouts of America has asked a Philadelphia judge to dismiss a lawsuit that blames the organization for the suicide of an Eagle Scout who allegedly was molested by his Scoutmaster.
Patricia A. Evasew says her son Thomas was so distraught after being repeatedly molested by Scoutmaster Charles “Chris” Morris in the 1980s that he shot and killed himself.
At the time of the alleged molestation, Morris was Scoutmaster for BSA Troop 67 of the Chester County Council.
In July, Evasew filed suit against the BSA, claiming the organization failed to provide adequate warning that it was a “magnet” for pedophiles. She’s seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.
But in a Sept. 8 filing, the BSA claimed Evasew’s lawsuit is meritless and should be dismissed.
Child molestation within the BSA is “exceedingly rare,” and the BSA had no reason to suspect that Morris would molest Evasew’s son, according to the filing.
“It is denied that [BSA] should have known Morris posed an alleged sexual threat to young boys, including Thomas Evasew,” it states. “On the contrary, the [BSA] did not know and had no reason to know of the existence of the alleged sexual threat posed to young boys by Morris.”
The filing also states that BSA’s child-abuse prevention program is so effective, many other “youth-serving” organizations throughout the country utilize it.
“The BSA has historically and to the present time placed great importance on creating a secure environment for the youth participants in Scouting,” the BSA states in the filing.
Further, it states that “thousands” of adult volunteers have been dismissed from Scouting for “inappropriate conduct,” but denies that their dismissals were hidden from the public.
“It is specifically denied that BSA continues to make purportedly false and misleading statements regarding the risks of sexual abuse in Scouting, continues to purportedly minimize and downplay the harm of sexual abuse to children in Scouting, fails to reach out to provide support and assistance to boys it knows were sexually abused by adult Scout leaders and continues to deny the purported truth about its historical knowledge of the nature and extent of sexual abuse of Scouts by adult Scout leaders,” the filing states.
Evasew’s lawsuit is pending before Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein. By presstime, the judge hadn’t ruled on the BSA’s request to dismiss her lawsuit.
Morris, of Paoli, was banned from Scouting in the 1990s, though he’s never been charged with criminal wrongdoing, according to court records.
He couldn’t be reached for comment.