|Dallas Attorney Trey Branham quoted in The Dallas Business Journal article |
Boy Scouts allegations involving abuse highlight legal lessons
|September 21, 2012 11:58 pm|
The Dallas Business Journal:
Conduct thorough background checks. Report abuse allegations to authorities. Act swiftly.
Those are among the legal lessons that businesses and other organizations that serve youth can learn from the experience of Irving-based Boy Scouts of America, which this week faced new allegations that officials sought to conceal sexual abuse within the organization.
"In the more than 100 years that the BSA has served youth, society has learned about this important issue," Smith said. "The BSA has continuously enhanced its multitiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs and safety policies."
While he said it's nice that the Scouts have added safeguards through the years, the defense about changing societal norms doesn't hold water with Trey Branham of Branham Law LLP, a Dallas civil litigation firm.
"If the defense is, 'This is the way we did it because this is the way everybody else was doing it,' that's really no defense at all," he said.
The legal implications for the Boy Scouts could be substantial, although it's too early to quantify it with any precision, Branham said. Because the allegations span a wide time frame and the alleged acts took place in many states, many of the accusations are going to be difficult to prove, he said. Different states have different statutes of limitations, discovery rules and other evidentiary rules, he said.
"It's really going to be a case-by-case basis," he said. "Something that occurred in the 1970s is going to be awful hard (to prove). Something that occurred in the 1990s may be a little easier."
Branham compared the allegations in the Boy Scouts case to the recent sex abuse case at Penn State University.
"If the (court) papers say what has been reported (in the press), you have a clear, organizational, institutional decision not to report people who were engaging in these type of crimes," he said. "And at least in some instances, they made decisions not to go to police. That sounds an awful lot like what the administration was reportedly doing (at Penn State)."
© 2012 American City Business Journals
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