Guam Court Rejects Boy Scouts Brief in Sex Abuse Cases

Nearly 100 sex abuse lawsuits in Guam involving the Catholic Church and over 50 involving the Boy Scouts are really heating up. At least 55 cases (with more being filed every week) arise out of alleged abuse by Father Louis Brouillard, a former Catholic priest and Scoutmaster.

In one of the cases against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America tried to file a brief to present legal arguments to the court. But BSA is not a defendant in that particular case, so District Court of Guam Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan rejected BSA’s brief.  Judge Manibusan, said that the Boy Scouts are not a party to the case, and their brief does not provide unique or relevant information.

The Boy Scouts want the court to dismiss the lawsuits against them. BSA argues that Guam’s 2016 law – which retroactively removed the statute of limitations in civil cases related to child sex abuse – does not allow lawsuits against organizations affiliated with the abusers. According to BSA, the 2016 law allows lawsuits against abusers, but not third-party enablers or abettors.

The Catholic Church defendants’ motion to dismiss is up for hearing first, on August 29. It is likely that the ruling on that motion will affect similar rulings in the other cases, including rulings on the Boy Scouts’ motions. That is why BSA wanted to file a brief in this Catholic Church case and to make its arguments now.

The Catholic Church sponsored many of the Boy Scout troops in Guam, and Fr. Brouillard served as a priest for more than three decades on the island before moving to US mainland where he served in Minnesota. Fr. Brouillard is the subject of numerous sexual abuse allegations in both Guam and Minnesota. He admitted to at least 20 instances of abuse in Guam and publicly stated that he confessed his sins to other priests on the island at the time but no one told him to specifically stop.

Instead, Fr. Brouillard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that the other priests told him to “do better” along with regular penance, such as saying Hail Mary prayers.

“At that time, when I was that age, I got the impression that kids liked it, so I went ahead. But now of course, I know it’s wrong and I’m paying for it,” Fr. Brouillard said.

To do right by the victims of Fr. Brouillard, and over a dozen other Catholic priests and other named abusers in the Guam lawsuits, both the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church should face liability for the actions of the men who worked for them. When organizations accept the benefits when their volunteers and employees do good, they must accept responsibility when their volunteers and employees cause harm.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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