The sexual abuse lawsuits keep piling up against Boy Scouts of America and its local Northern Star Council wing. On Friday, the sixth Minnesota claim in the past four months was filed in Ramsey County court.
Between 1968 and 1969, a St. Paul boy was allegedly sexually assaulted multiple times by a scout leader identified only as Mr. Hamper. According to the complaint, the abuse occurred when the boy was 12 and 13 years old at various scouting events in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Now 59, the unnamed victim has come forward with his claims in hopes of preventing similar abuse, says his lawyer Patrick Noaker, who believes Hamper assaulted three or four other boys. Hamper’s signature move was allegedly getting his victims high by sniffing glue or paint before assaulting them.
Noaker says his client grew up in a low-income St. Paul neighborhood. His father wasn’t around much and he grew to trust Hamper.
“At times they have somewhat fragmented families,” Noaker says of child abuse victims, “so the need is higher for good, solid mentorship. Unfortunately the trust was there. As was the case here, it’s a recipe that allowed this guy to get access to a number of boys.”
The abuse stopped when Noaker’s client reported Hamper during a trip to Fred C. Anderson Scout Camp near Houlton, Wisconsin. Hamper allegedly lured him into a tent, but the boy found the strength to resist.
“For some reason he said, ‘I don’t know what happened, but I wasn’t going to do it anymore,’” Noaker says. “He ran out and reported Hamper to the main office, what he was trying to do. Hamper was removed then from the campgrounds, I guess.”
The barrage of abuse claims against the scouts comes under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for child abuse victims. Noaker claims that Boy Scouts of America and the Northern Star Council have not done enough to prevent sexual abuse.
Kent York, a spokesman for the Northern Star Council, declined to discuss specific cases. But he says child protection practices in and outside of scouting have improved over the past 50 years. He points to criminal background checks volunteers undergo and requirements that multiple adults be present at scout activities
“Scouting is here for all children and we are all profoundly saddened when any child is harmed by anyone, ever,” York wrote in a statement. “We work constantly to keep them safe and Scouting is and has been one of the safest places for kids in our community.”
More from News