Fire District Sued In Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Case

A fire district in New York is one of five entities being sued by a sexual abuse victim under a special state law that extends the statute of limitations to August 14, 2021 for otherwise time-barred claims brought by minors. Jeffrey Corley filed suit naming the Fallsburg Central School District, the Board of education of the Fallsburg Central School District, the Greater Hudson Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the New York State Education Department and the Woodbourne Fire District under the Child Victims Act of 2019.

Corley, a former boy scout, claims he was abused by a former assistant Scout leader, identified only as Robbie. According to the complaint, the Woodbourne Fire District sponsored the troop, and “obtained a charter agreement from the Boy Scouts of America and GHVC that allowed and enabled WFD Defendants to operate and control Plaintiff’s Boy Scout Troop subject to the rules, regulations, and control of GHVC.”

The suit contends that each of the defendant organizations breached a duty owed to Corley to protect him. Quoting from the complaint:

  • The Defendants had a duty to warn, train, or educate their Scout leaders, volunteers, and youth members, including Plaintiff, about the danger of sexual abuse by Scout leaders and volunteers who were involved in their Scouting program and how to avoid or minimize such danger.
  • The Defendants had a duty to competently investigate Robbie prior to accepting them as their agents.
  • The Defendants had a duty to competently supervise Robbie during the time they served as their agents.
  • The Defendants had a special duty to supervise Robbie.
  • The Defendants had a special duty to protect Plaintiff while in their custody and control.
  • Prior to and all times herein mentioned, Defendants knew of Robbie’s abuse of Plaintiff and/or his propensity to sexually abuse minors such as Plaintiff
  • The Defendants breached each of the foregoing duties by failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent their assistant Scout leader, Robbie, from using his position with the Defendants to sexually abuse Plaintiff when Plaintiff was in the care, custody, or control of the Defendants.
  • The Defendants breached their duty of care and were careless and negligent in failing to conduct a reasonable, careful, and prudent investigation into the past histories of Robbie, and, had they done so, they would have discovered that Robbie should not be retained for a position of trust and confidence with children.
  • The Defendants breached their duty of care by failing to supervise Robbie and Plaintiff, particularly given the prevalence of child molestation by volunteer scout leaders historically within the Council itself, and throughout scouting in general.
  • The Defendants breached their duty of care by retaining Robbie even though they knew or should have known that Robbie was abusing Plaintiff prior to the last instance of abuse against Plaintiff and/or that Robbie had a propensity to abuse children.
  • In breaching their duties, including hiring, retaining, and failing to supervise Robbie; giving him access to children; entrusting their tasks, premises, and instrumentalities to him; failing to train their personnel in the signs of sexual predation and to protect children from sexual abuse and other harm; failing to warn Plaintiff, his parents, and other parents of the danger of sexual abuse; and failing to create a safe and secure environment for Plaintiff and other children who were under their supervision and in their care, custody, and control, the Defendants created a foreseeable risk that Plaintiff would be sexually abused by Robbie.

The Child Victim’s Act originally gave folks like Jeffrey until August 14, 2020 to file suits against public and private institutions that otherwise have been prohibited by the statute of limitations. Due to the COVID crisis, Governor Cuomo extended the period until August 14, 2021. The act allows the victim to sue the perpetrator any time until the victim reaches the age of fifty-five. More on the Act.

Besides alleging negligence, the complaint alleges sexual abuse and battery. Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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