by Phil Prazan
Lawyers filed a suit Friday against the organization in Polk County. They say over 35 years ago a West Des Moines scout master sexually assaulted one of his scouts.
The civil suit filed by Hopkins Law Office and a Portland based attorney accuses Boy Scouts of America, the former scout master, and the Mid-Iowa Council of some serious charges: sexual assault, intentional affliction of emotional distress, negligence and fraud.
"Our program since 1910 has been talking about building boys up and when something happens to them, it's something that affects all of us. So we really, really take these situations seriously," says Robert Hopper, Scout Executive for the Mid-Iowa Council.
Hopper and other boy scout leaders now have to investigate these charges that, if true, happened decades ago. A difficult task because there is no one still on staff from 1977 or 78.
The defendant, Kenneth Newell, was in his mid to late 20's at the time and now lives in Cedar Rapids.
Lawyers say they are including the national Boy Scout organization in the suit for their lack of action combating sexual predators.
"The Scouts were aware of a significant problem long before this action took place and that's exactly the problem," says Patrick Hopkins, the plaintiff's lawyer.
The Mid-Iowa Council says things have changed dramatically since the time of the supposed abuse. A robust and intensive background check is required after scout leaders are selected.
To their knowledge, this is the first time a lawsuit such as this has been filed against the Mid-Iowa Council.