Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Victim sues Boy Scouts

Delaware man prompted by 'perversion files'

A Delaware man Wednesday sued the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over childhood sexual abuse committed by the scoutmaster at his church-sponsored troop.

Melvin Novak filed the lawsuit in state court in Philadelphia, charging that newly released Boy Scout "perversion files" support his claim that the organization hid abuse complaints for years.

"They knew about this conduct, they knew what was going on, and they covered it up in the most despicable way," attorney Stewart J. Eisenberg said at a news conference attended by Novak and his father.

The lawsuit names the larger Mormon church and the Downingtown-area chapel that Novak attended. The Boy Scouts said it regrets the past abuse of Scouts, and church spokesman Eric Hawkins said abusers should face both legal prosecution and church discipline. Neither group had seen Novak's lawsuit.

His abuser, Vance Hein, 61, is in prison for a parole violation related to a 1999 misdemeanor conviction in Novak's case. He originally got probation but is now serving 15 to 30 years for possessing child pornography, Eisenberg said.

Novak, 28, of Newark, Del., said the abuse made him "a quitter" when it came to school and jobs, and plunged him into years of substance abuse.

"After all that, my childhood just fell apart," said Novak, who now manages a retail store. "It took away a lot of accomplishments and experiences I can't get back."

The Boy Scout files - more than 14,000 pages of secret documents compiled from 1959 to 1985 - show that police, prosecutors, pastors and Scout leaders quietly shielded scoutmasters and others who allegedly molested children. In response, the Scouts have apologized and said their response to the allegations were "plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong."