What's the Problem?
James Collins, the alleged abuser in the suit, worked at the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, in Westchester County, New York, in numerous positions including mentor and supervisor, which provided him access to young children, according to the CT Post.
The 4 plaintiffs, who ranged in age from 10 years old to teenagers when the alleged abuse occurred, claim that Collins engaged in repeated sexual abuse and exploitation of minors, yet the Boys & Girls Club failed to respond to repeated complaints against him and allowed a predator to victimize children for years.
The suit describes Collins' “grooming behaviors,” including giving gifts, treats, candy, and even alcohol. The defendant targeted children from single-parent homes and other vulnerable situations, according to the complaint.
“These warning signs, grooming behaviors, inappropriate time spent alone with Plaintiffs and not respecting boundaries with children were ignored by (the Boys & Girls Club), thus, creating the opportunity for abuse, resulting in failures to enforce proper boundaries and, instead, allowing Collins access to abuse children,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants -- the Boys & Girls Club, several schools, a camp, and the town of Mount Kisco, New York -- were negligent for failing to protect children from sexual abuse by Collins. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with attorney fees.
Despite the charges pending against him, Collins is somehow still employed as a bus driver and janitor at a school in Hawthorn, New York, allowing him continued access to children, according to the Greenwich Time.
The complaint was filed under New York’s Child Victims Act . The law gives survivors of child sexual assault more time to file legal action against their abusers and the institutions that may have failed to protect them and others. Child victims can file civil lawsuits in cases where the statute of limitations (SOL) would have otherwise expired.
What Other Instances of Boys & Girls Club Sexual Abuse Have Been Uncovered?
In addition to the above case, instances of specific claims and abuse throughout the Boys & Girls Club have been reported by the news media across the U.S. Some cases involve allegations against a single staff member, while others involve multiple abusers, as well as clubs downplaying or outright hiding cases of sexual assault or abuse.
Newspapers around the country have reported on hundreds of allegations against the Boys and Girls Club of America, and several organizations have investigated the scope of the problem.
Hearst Connecticut Media, for example, conducted the largest of said investigations and published its findings in a series of articles in late 2019. The investigation uncovered hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse in Boys and Girls clubs in 35 states.
Specifically, by August 2019 reporters had discovered 250 alleged victims claiming to have been sexually abused by Boys and Girls Club of America employees, volunteers, and other members when they were children — some as young as 6 years old, according to the Connecticut Post. By September 2020, those numbers had grown to 351 victims in 35 states.
Court records showed some of the children were abused for years, while others were abused in single incidents such as sleepovers or trips. Club directors, coaches, and volunteers were identified as abusers, in addition to certain minors.
In criminal and civil court documents that go back as far as the 1970s, the investigation revealed civil lawsuits filed by former Boys and Girls Club members who claimed that club officials knew about the abuse but failed to report it to authorities. Other victims accused individual clubs of not following safety guidelines or performing background checks on the adults they allowed to work with kids.
Contact us today to speak to experienced sexual abuse attorneys to learn more about your legal rights.
Do I Have a Boys & Girls Club Lawsuit?
The Sexual Abuse Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Boys & Girls Club Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and are currently accepting new injury cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one was the victim of sexual abuse, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.