Child sexual abuse survivors deal with bankruptcy, old evidence after laws extend statute of limitations

Kevin McCoy : USA TODAY

February 24th, 2020

Raul Diaz envied the kids from his New York City neighborhood who’d joined the Boy Scouts of America during the 1960s. Hoping to go on camping trips, too, he convinced his mother to let him sign up.

The decision led to a half-century-long saga — not of pitching tents, paddling canoes and earning merit badges, but of anguishing over the sexual abuse he suffered.

Diaz, now 60, is among thousands of people who have taken advantage of sweeping legal changes that extend statutes of limitations to allow the abused to sue their attackers.

“I thought I would never see the day when I would be able to seek justice,” he said.

Although lawsuits like his may provide catharsis, they offer no promise of speedy legal relief.

In some cases, independent corroborating evidence is gone or nonexistent, making it difficult to prove plaintiffs’ claims.

The alleged assailants may have died, leaving the accusers to sue the Boy Scouts, religious organizations, schools, foster care providers and other children-focused groups they believe enabled their abusers. That legal strategy requires plaintiffs to prove the organizations had reason to know about the abusers’ conduct.

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