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Parents of molested boys file suit against Boy Scouts

ST. PETERSBURG — The parents of three children who were molested by their Scout leader have filed a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America and its local affiliate, saying both organizations were negligent and could have prevented the abuse.

The parents, whose identities are not in the lawsuit, claim the Boy Scouts didn't protect their sons from Steven Greenleaf, a former leader of Troop 60 in New Port Richey

Greenleaf, 56, was convicted last summer of four counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition and a single count of lewd and lascivious molestation.

He is serving 12 years in prison for exposing himself and making sexual advances to the boys, who told authorities about the abuse in 2007.

Hands trembling, a mother of one of the boys spoke out Friday afternoon during a news conference with her attorneys.

"Steven Greenleaf is a monster and so are the Boy Scouts and their chapters because they failed to protect our children," said the woman, who asked to be identified only as "Jennifer" to protect her son, who was 9 years old when he was molested. "It's been nothing but a nightmare."

The parents' civil suit, filed Friday morning, claims that Boy Scouts of America and the local West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America broke their own policies about training Scout leaders and parents about how to keep children safe from abuse.

The suit also says leaders didn't do a background of Greenleaf, who volunteered with the organization for 20 years, or tell parents about rules preventing any child from being alone with one adult.

Local Boy Scout officials declined to comment, saying they hadn't seen the lawsuit yet. Officials from the national organization could not be reached.

"Jennifer," the single mother of one of the victims, said her son struggles with depression and anger. He also has had to attend therapy and counseling.

"It's really wreaked havoc on these young souls," said Tampa lawyer Michael Maddux, who is part of the parents' legal team. "The heartbreaks started with the Boy Scouts."

The parents are seeking damages that exceed $15,000.

In addition to Maddux and Pinellas Park attorney Joe Saunders, the parents have secured the help of Kelly Clark, a Portland, Ore., attorney who has been successful with similar child abuse lawsuits, including a nearly $20 million verdict against the Boy Scouts last month.

Clark said recently released files show that the Boy Scouts knew that its symbol of trust has been abused by sexual predators for several decades. But the organization still isn't fully implementing its own policies that could prevent abuse, he said.

"There is no excuse for this," he said. "They do not require training of local leaders. It is irresponsible."

"Jennifer" said she hopes the lawsuit will provide justice to her son and the other two boys.

"I feel like I've lost a part of my son along the way," she said. "I know that we will get through this and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8643.

Parents of molested boys file suit against Boy Scouts 05/21/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 22, 2010 12:01am]
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