Lawsuit alleges sex abuse in Scouts

Lawsuit alleges sex abuse in Scouts

ROB CARSON; The News Tribune

A Tacoma man is suing the Boy Scouts of America, alleging his scoutmaster repeatedly sexually abused him when he was a Scout in Lakewood 34 years ago.

Dave Aqua, 47, an Air Force veteran and a registered nurse, named the national scouting organization and the local Pacific Harbors Council in his lawsuit, which he filed Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court.

"This is a road to healing for me," Aqua said, "but I also feel it is a moral obligation. If I could save one boy from having to go through what I did, it's worth it to me."

In his complaint, Aqua says the Scout leader coerced him into dozens of deviant sexual acts in 1970 and 1971 while he was a member of Troop 120, sponsored by Lakewood Methodist Church.

Scouting executives knew about the abuses but did nothing about them, Aqua said in an interview Wednesday.

Doug Dillow, Scout executive at Pacific Harbors Council, said Wednesday that he had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on it.

The scoutmaster, who is dead, was a soldier at Fort Lewis at the time of the abuses, Aqua said. He was a highly successful recruiter, Aqua said, who built Troop 120 to among the largest in the council.

Aqua, who eventually became an Eagle Scout, said the scoutmaster regularly took him and other young boys to his apartment, where he had them dress in scanty "Indian costumes" and took photos of them before abusing them. The walls of the man's apartment were covered with photos of half-clothed boys, Aqua said.

Dillow said the BSA now has strong policies against any kind of child abuse.

"We have a very active and comprehensive program that we utilize continuously," he said.

Among the precautions the organization uses, he said, is its "Two Deep Leadership" program, which ensures that at least two adults are present at all Scout activities. It now conducts criminal background checks on volunteers, he said, and makes sure men and boys shower separately and have separate sleeping arrangements while camping.

"We have a number of practices and policies that we have utilized in an attempt to make sure kids are in the safest environment possible," Dillow said.

Timothy Kosnoff, the Seattle attorney who is representing Aqua, disagreed.

"They've done very little to tighten up their procedures," he said.

"There are unique.htmlects to Scouting that make it the perfect environment for those that have the compulsion of sexual attraction to children. They have the responsibility to figure out what it is about the organization that lets this happen."

This is the second sexual abuse case filed against the Pacific Harbor Council in the past 10 months.

In October, two brothers, also represented by Kosnoff, said a different scoutmaster sexually abused them from 1971 to 1983. The brothers, Tom and Matt Stewart, of Enumclaw and San Diego, respectively, were members of Scout troops 310 in Tacoma and 336 in Federal Way. Like Aqua, both became Eagle Scouts.

The Stewarts claimed that their scoutmaster molested them repeatedly during Scouting activities and threatened to kill their parents if they told on him.

That case, which also names the Boy Scouts' Chief Seattle Council, is in discovery phase in King County Superior Court. A trial date has been set for early next summer.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693
[email protected]

(Published 12:54 AM, August 12th, 2004)

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