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New Lawsuit Details Sexual Abuse by Leaders of Arizona Boy Scout Troop and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

January 14, 2021

Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, a national trial law firm principally based in Chicago, announces the filing of a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America and certain leaders of both organizations for the repeated sexual abuse of a minor. The Plaintiff John Doe is now an adult, and the lawsuit details years of repeated abuse by scout leaders, one of whom was also a church leader, during the 1970s.  The legal complaint further details that the Plaintiff informed the Bishop of the abuse, who told the child he would be excommunicated from the church if he informed anyone outside the organization. 

The lawsuit was filed December 30, 2020 in the Superior Court of the State of Arizona in and for the County of Maricopa, Arizona. In addition to the church and the scouting organizations, it names Bishop Floyd Dean Davis, Scoutmaster Roy E. Young, and scout leader and church leader Ellis Lavar Engle for their roles.

The filing details four years of sexual abuse endured by the Plaintiff who was a church member in the Phoenix area in the 1970s. The church asked that all young men participate in Boy Scouts, with church leaders and scout leaders working closely together or, in many cases, leaders holding dual roles in both organizations.  As a matter of practice, the church often appointed the Boy Scout leaders to each troop. The abuse in this case took place in 1973-1974 by Scoutmaster Young when the Plaintiff was 11-12 years old. Sexual abuse took place for an additional two years by Defendant Engle.

There are eight counts within the complaint against all defendants: Negligence, Negligent Training of Employees, Negligent Retention of Employees with Knowledge, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Endangerment, Child Abuse and Assault.  

The complaint calls for a jury trial and seeks general and special damages, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive or exemplary damages.

Attorneys on the case include Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Stephan D. Blandin, as well as Associates Nicolette Ward and Martin D. Gould.

“With this lawsuit, we intend to shine the light of justice on people and organizations that nurtured an environment where the repeated molestation of a child was tolerated, and the leaders involved were allowed to maintain their roles and access to young people. The level of negligence in our Plaintiff’s life is nothing other than tragic, and we are committed to securing justice on his behalf,” said Stephan D. Blandin, Founding Partner at Romanucci & Blandin. 

“This case represents the microcosm of a much larger institutional culture of cover-up that plagued the Grand Canyon Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maricopa County for decades. The time has come for accountability,” said Associate Attorney Martin D. Gould.

“It is impossible to explain the incredible impact that this type of abuse has on a child, and the intense challenges it creates for them for the rest of their lives. Our Plaintiff has demonstrated strength, bravery and courage in coming forward,” said Associate Attorney Nicolette Ward.

To learn more about legal options when someone has suffered sexual abuse or interpersonal violence please click here. 

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