Boy Scout Sex Abuse Lawsuit Names Former US Congressman Gary Ackerman

Gary Ackerman, former member of Congress

A new lawsuit names former U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman as a child molester. The new Boy Scout sex abuse case alleges that Ackerman sexually abused a boy at a Boy Scout camp in in 1966 in New York state.

Ackerman was born November 19, 1942 and was serving as a Democrat member of the US House of Representatives for New York from 1983 to 2013. He is now retired from politics. His lawyer denied the accusations against him.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2019 in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. The plaintiff — identified by pseudonym as “John Doe” — alleges that Ackerman sexually assaulted him when he was 17 years old. Ackerman, the suit alleges, was a director at the Ten Mile River Camp near Narrowsburg, a Boy Scout camp in upstate New York. Ackerman was 23 at the time.

“In over 30 years of public service, there has never been any accusation of this kind or indeed of any wrongdoing in the Congressman’s career,” attorney Oscar Michelen said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit alleges that Ackerman lured the teen into his car, drove him to an abandoned road, and “attempted to force Mr. Doe to perform oral sex on him and forcefully performed oral sex on Mr. Doe.” Ackerman’s lawyer says he will vigorously fight these claims.

The local council of the Boy Scouts of America is also named as a defendant in the case. The plaintiff alleges that the Boy Scouts are liable for failing “to take any steps to keep the dangerous predator away from the young men of the camp.”

BSA said a check of its database used to screen volunteers found no record of any allegation against Ackerman. This is no surprise. As discussed on the Dumas & Vaughn blog, most Boy Scout sex abuse perpetrators do not have a Boy Scout file. For one thing, BSA purged the files in the 1970s and destroyed at least half of the files that existed at the time.

More to the point in this situation, most boys never report their abuse in Boy Scouts. If a boy felt sexually exploited by a trusted Scout leader, he may never have reported his experience to anyone. A BSA Ineligible Volunteer file will contain evidence that a man is a child molester. But the absence of a file proves nothing – it may show that BSA did not get notice about the man for many reasons, BSA destroyed the file, or BSA decided his conduct was not bad enough to put him in a file.

The plaintiff in the case against Ackerman and the Boy Scouts seeks unspecified damages. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff has suffered “serious and severe psychological injuries and emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation.”

The case against Ackerman comes after a groundbreaking new law in New York went into effect on August 14, 2019. The Child Victims Act gives sexual abuse survivors a one-year window to file a civil lawsuit against their alleged perpetrators and institutions like the Boy Scouts, schools, and the Catholic Church.

Based on the number of known Boy Scouts Ineligible Volunteer files and studies of perpetrators, it is reasonable to believe there are upwards of 100,000 kids who were sexually abused in Scouting. Statute of limitations have prevented claims from going forward. But windows like the one in New York, Pennsylvania, and soon to open in California mean that survivors have new opportunities to come forward with claims.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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