SAN DIEGO — Almost 50 years after Mike Hernandez says he was abused as a young boy by his Boy Scouts troop leader, he still gets emotional recalling the experience.
“I have never talked about this,” he said. “I think kids need to be protected. And (the Boy Scouts) shouldn’t hide behind a bankruptcy.”
Hernandez is one of thousands of victims who has filed lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America since January, when a three-year statute of limitations opened up to allow new victims to come forward.
It’s this opportunity — which has resulted in mounting lawsuits — that the Boy Scouts says, in a statement, forced them to file for bankruptcy protection.
“Those lawsuits against the Boy Scouts national organization are going to be stopped, and everything is going to be moved to bankruptcy court in Delaware,” attorney Irwin Zalkin of Zalkin Law in Sorrento Valley said. “So your complaints should now be filed in bankruptcy court in Delaware.”
Zalkin has filed cases on behalf of 27 men, mostly from California. His clients allege they were victims of sexual abuse at hands of troop leaders as young boys and that the Boy Scouts of America did nothing to protect them or take action against the abusers.
Now that the organization is receiving an avalanche of complaints, their accusers say they are simply protecting their billion-dollar empire.
“They’re worried about preserving their wealth,” Zalkin said. “Its not about how we’re going to help victims. If they wanted to help victims they would have made public all these files of known predators so people can go and see if there’s a known predator in our community.”