John Roe #1 v. Boys Scouts of America Corp.
Corporate defendants who lack any knowledge about sexual abuse, until a newspaper publishes a report about an individual's arrest, may not owe a duty to a minor to prevent sexual abuse. Allegedly, the plaintiff's stepfather, a Boy Scout troop leader, took the minor plaintiff on Boy Scout camping trips, shared a cot with the plaintiff and sexually molested the plaintiff. In March 2007, the plaintiff informed a friend, and the police arrested his stepfather, who pled guilty to charges of sexual abuse. The plaintiff sued the Boy Scouts of America and Connecticut Rivers Council Inc., alleging that they were negligent, because they did not promulgate rules to help identify sexual predators and did not monitor and supervise his stepfather. The corporate defendants moved for summary judgment and submitted affidavits, alleging that when the defendants were aware of allegations of sexual misconduct they placed the volunteer's name on a list of ineligible volunteers. The court found that the plaintiff's complaint failed to adequately allege that the stepfather was the agent of the Boy Scouts. Corporate defendants were not responsible for selecting the stepfather as scout leader or controlling his day-to-day activities. Even if there were an agency relationship, corporate defendants did not owe a duty to the minor plaintiff, because the plaintiff's injury was not foreseeable. There was no evidence corporate defendants possessed actual or constructive knowledge about sexual abuse. There was no evidence that the plaintiff's stepfather possessed a criminal record. Known information in the stepfather's background did not lead to a reasonable belief he would abuse a minor on a Boy Scout camping trip. An ordinary person in the defendants' position would not have anticipated that sexual abuse would take place. There was no evidence that corporate defendants possessed any knowledge the plaintiff's stepfather allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct until the Hartford Courant published news of his arrest. "It is only with the benefit of perfect hindsight," wrote the court, "that one can say that they could have prevented the abuse." The alleged sexual abuse was not foreseeable, and the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on negligence.