Posted on Jun 01, 2011
SARASOTA COUNTY - A third area family is suing the Boy Scouts of America and its local chapter, saying their son was sexually abused by another Scout during an overnight camping trip.

The lawsuit filed this week in Sarasota County court references a June 2009 incident at Camp Shands in Hawthorne, when an older Scout allegedly held an 11-year-old boy to the ground and forced him to submit to oral sex.

The suit claims leaders of Troop 338, part of the Southwest Florida Council, were negligent because they left the boy accused of abuse -- also a minor -- alone to supervise the victim.  Attorney Damian Mallard said the adult who was watching the group was outside talking on a cell phone when the abuse happened.

The lawsuit also claims that the teenager had verbally and physically abused the victim prior to the sexual incident.

"It's the same thing over and over," Mallard said.  "They knew these things were happening and did nothing to stop it."

The teenager accused of the abuse also faced criminal charges in Putnam County and recently entered into a plea deal, Mallard said.

Representatives for the local and national Boy Scouts declined to comment on the suit.

The case is the third similar suit to surface this year, all alleging that lax supervision in the Scouts enabled older Scouts to sexually abuse younger ones in their charge.  The other two suits, filed last month, involved cases of abuse in the Southwest Florida Council's Troop 23.

One of those lawsuits alleges that Robert Brehm, a 2008 graduate of Sarasota Military Academy, held a knife to a 12-year-old boy's throat and forced him to perform oral sex during a 2007 trip to Florida Caverns State Park in Jackson County.

The other suit alleges that Brehm physically threatened a 13-year-old boy to force him to allow a third Scout to perform oral sex on him during a 2007 trip to Camp Flying Eagle in Manatee County.

Brehm, who has denied the allegations, also faced criminal charges, but they were dropped due to prosecutor error.

Both lawsuits assert that troop leaders with the Southwest Florida Council knew of past abuses and bullying, and that they did not have adequately trained supervisors on the trip.

All three of the lawsuits seek more than $15,000 in damages.

After the first two suits, the Southwest Florida Council of the Boy Scouts sent a written statement denying the allegations.

"The health and safety of our youth members and participants is our highest priority," wrote Greg Graham, spokesman for the local chapter.

"The allegations of this lawsuit do not represent the values and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America, the Southwest Florida Council, its members, volunteers and chartered organizations."
Damian Mallard, Esq.
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