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Boy Scout Sex Abuse Files to End up in Court?

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By Andrew Lu on September 18, 2012 10:01 AM

It's a sad commentary when the alleged Boy Scout sex abuse scandal barely makes a ripple in the news.

We have all become so jaded to child sex abuse scandals that we just automatically figure that any large organization having to do with youths will have sex abuse and attempts to cover up the sex abuse -- as was allegedly the case with the Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America were tightly associated with innocence and growing up in America. But with hundreds of reports of allegations of sex abuse possibly about to be released, the organization may become more intimately tied to courtroom battles and criminal charges, reports Reuters.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported the Boy Scouts failed to report allegations of sex abuse of children by adult leaders and volunteers to police in hundreds of cases from 1970 to 1991, reports Reuters. 

In some cases, the Boy Scouts helped the adults "cover their tracks." In addition, about 1,200 "ineligible volunteer" files are set to be publicly released under an order by the Oregon Supreme Court stemming from a 2010 civil trial.

As the Boy Scouts are already facing more than 50 pending child sexual abuse cases in 18 states, the Boy Scouts better be prepared for a potential avalanche of even more despite many of these allegations coming decades ago.

As you may know, prosecutors generally don't have an unlimited amount of time to file criminal charges. That's because really old cases can get stale and evidence can become unreliable. However, for particularly severe crimes like child sex abuse, the time to bring criminal charges can be extended if not allowed indefinitely.

In the case of the Boy Scouts sex abuse, whether the pending release of the files will lead to any criminal charges will likely depend upon when the abuse happened and what state the abuse happened in.

For example, some states like Alaska allow prosecutors to bring charges at any time. Other states like California allow prosecutors to bring charges until the child turns 28 years of age. While some states allow prosecutors to bring charges from when the child turns 18 plus some set number of years.

Release of child sex abuse records from the 1970s can still lead to fresh criminal charges despite the alleged crime occurring 40 years ago. A good criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction can tell you just exactly how long criminal charges can be brought.

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