Seven lawsuits were filed against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday, alleging the church participated in covering up decades of sexual abuse in Arizona Boy Scout troops.
Hurley McKenna & Mertz, the firm representing defendants in the suits, said in a statement that the church “must be held accountable in order to bring healing and closure to Mormon victims of childhood sexual abuse,” according to the Associated Press.
All seven lawsuits allege church officials failed to notify authorities about allegations of abuse that occurred between 1972 and 2009. According to the suits, when bishops were notified of abuse allegations, victims were told to “keep quiet” while the church conducted its own internal investigation — while the accused troop leaders and volunteers continued to participate in scouting activities.
Sam Penrod, a spokesman for the Mormon church, said that the allegations the church was aware of a list of “banned” Scout leaders and volunteers are “simply false.”
“The claim that the church has had access to the BSA ineligible volunteer files for many decades is simply false,” Penrod said. “The church learned about the details of those files at the same time as the general public. These claims will be carefully evaluated and appropriately addressed.”
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February following an onslaught of hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse within the 110-year-old organization. With a Chapter 11 petition, the group sought to reorganize and set up a victims’ compensation fund. Roughly 90,000 individuals stepped forward to make sex-abuse claims against the BSA.
“The Boy Scouts filing for bankruptcy doesn’t end the investigation, as far as who knew what was going on, as far as these little kids being abused in Scouting, when they knew it, and what they should have done to stop it,” Mark McKenna, whose firm is representing victims in the lawsuits against the Mormon church, told Fox News. “It’s only because of [the church’s] sponsorship of these troops that families felt comfortable in trusting their kids to these Scout leaders, and that was a recipe for disaster.”