Posted On: November 20, 2007 by Mark R. McKenna

Suit Exposes Sexual Abuse by Illinois Boy Scout Executive

Today Chicago law firm Hurley McKenna & Mertz filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, the Blackhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts, and Dixon, Illinois resident Charles Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff, also called “Chuck,” was a nearly thirty-year paid employee of the Boy Scouts, spending the last eleven years as a Senior District Executive of the Blackhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, based in Rockford, Illinois, and was recently assigned to Lee, Ogle and Whiteside Counties.

Bickerstaff is alleged to have repeatedly sexually abused a 16 year-old Boy Scout, named as “John Doe” in the lawsuit. Bickerstaff, 56, is now in jail in Dixon, Illinois on $4 million bond awaiting trial on multiple counts of child molestation involving at least two victims.

Police have recovered six diaries of 120 pages in length from Bickerstaff's home which describe in detail his sexual relationships with underage boys dating back to at least 1989.

The victim was a member of the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for most of his childhood who "looked (to Bickerstaff) as an authority figure," the lawsuit says. Using the power and trust of his position, the suit says, Bickerstaff routinely spent time alone with the boy outside of Scout events. Bickerstaff "enticed, induced, directed, coerced, and forced" the child "to engage in deviant sexual acts with him." The crimes took place on a Scout trip to Lansing, Michigan, at Bickerstaff's home, and "other locations."

According to the suit, the Boy Scouts "knew or should have known" that Bickerstaff was dangerous, failed to adequately investigate allegations of misconduct involving Bickerstaff and failed to adequately supervise Bickerstaff's activities. The suit also alleges that the Boy Scouts knew for decades that sexual predators "had infiltrated Scouting," but its leadership "failed to inform Scouts' parents of that fact."

My firm represents the first victim to come forward and report this pedophile to police. Hopefully this lawsuit will allow other victims to come forward and report this type of abuse to the authorities, and allow us to use the tools available through the legal system to investigate how the Boy Scouts permitted a pedophile to become a paid executive within its organization.

A copy of the filed complaint can be referenced below:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT WINNEBAGO COUNTY, ILLINOIS


JANE DOE, as mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor,
Plaintiff,

v.

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA,
a congressionally chartered corporation,
authorized to do business in Illinois;
and BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC.
an Illinois public benefit corporation;
and CHARLES BICKERSTAFF,
Defendants.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

COMPLAINT AT LAW


NOW COMES the plaintiff, JANE DOE, as mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor, by and through plaintiff’s attorneys, HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ and THE LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY D. KOSNOFF, and as their complaint against defendants, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC. and CHARLES BICKERSTAFF, they state as follows:

COUNT I – NEGLIGENCE and BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY–
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA and
BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC.

1. The Boys Scouts of America (hereinafter "BSA") is the largest youth organization in the United States with approximately five million members. BSA was chartered in 1910 by an act of Congress. An estimated 20% of American boys have had contact with scouting either as members or by attending Scout functions.
2. Throughout its ninety-three year history, the BSA has consistently held itself out to the public as a "moral and safe" environment for boys to participate in healthy outdoor activities and to be given proper guidance and instruction. Millions of parents and scouts have placed their trust in the BSA.
3. Paradoxically, the BSA promotes the wholesomeness of its programs while knowing that since the 1940s it has been secretly removing scoutmasters for child sexual abuse at an alarming rate, which in the 1970s, reached an average of one every three days. Its own records demonstrate that it has long known that scouting attracts pedophiles in large numbers and that scouts, far from being safe, are at heightened risk of sexual abuse by child molesters.
4. JANE DOE, is the mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor. At all relevant times, JOHN DOE was enrolled in BSA Scouting programs.
5. Defendant, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA is a congressionally chartered corporation, authorized to do business in Illinois.
6. Defendant, BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC. (hereinafter “Blackhawk Area Council”) is an Illinois public benefit corporation which covers Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, and Whiteside counties for the BSA. The Blackhawk Area Council headquarters is located in the City of Rockford in Winnebago County, Illinois.
7. Defendant Charles "Chuck" Bickerstaff ("Bickerstaff”) was a pedophile and sexual predator of adolescent and pre-adolescent boys. Bickerstaff posed a constant threat to boys. 8. Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto a paid Executive of the Blackhawk Area Council.
9. Defendant Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto an employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant Boy Scouts of America.
10. Defendant Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto an employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant Blackhawk Area Council.
11. BSA and the BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL knew for decades that sexual predators of boys had infiltrated scouting. These defendants knew or should have known the danger that pedophiles presented to boy scouts and either knew or should have known the danger that Bickerstaff presented, but instead ignored that danger and permitted Bickerstaff and other pedophiles in scouting to prey upon young boys, including plaintiff.

12. BSA's own internal "Ineligible Volunteer Files" (also called "the confidential records"), records it collected and maintained in secrecy for seventy years, reveal that scouting is a pedophile "magnet" and that removed pedophiles were often able to re-enter scouting in other locations. These files were maintained concerning paid executives as well as "volunteers."

13. BSA's confidential records demonstrate both its awareness of Scouting's attraction to pedophiles and the distinctive characteristics of scouting that render scouts particularly susceptible to pedophiles.
14. BSA knew or should have known that scouting attracts pedophiles, in part, because: a) Scouting provides the pedophile access to boys alone and away from their parents in secluded settings like camp-outs and overnight hikes; b) Scouting provides opportunities for the pedophile to seduce a boy by getting him in situations where the boy has to change clothing or spend the night with him; c) the pedophile scout leader can, depending on the pedophile's age preference, volunteer for and be sure to have access only to boys of a certain age; d) BSA conditions boys to the concept of strict obedience to the Scout Leader, a bonding mechanism that pedophiles crave; e) BSA promotes the idea of secret ceremonies, rituals and loyalty oaths, all of which help facilitate the pedophile's efforts to keep his victims silent and compliant; f) At the time of the abuse, BSA conducted no criminal background checks on Bickerstaff.
15. BSA was aware for decades prior to the 1980s that it had ejected thousands of pedophiles from its ranks of leadership in local Scout Troops and failed to inform its Scouts and their parents of that fact. BSA knew or should have known that if they advised parents of this statistical phenomenon, parents might well remove their boys from Scouting, thus depriving BSA of millions of dollars of income.
16. BSA knew or should have known that its "ineligible volunteers" system of keeping track of pedophiles infiltrating its ranks and attempting to eliminate them did not function as it was intended, was flawed, and in many cases ineffective. Despite that knowledge, BSA did nothing to educate its Scouts and their parents of the ineffectiveness of the screening and tracking system and process. BSA did nothing to educate or inform Scouts and their parents of the enormity of the pedophile problem, nor did BSA take action to correct its screening and/or education system.
17. Bickerstaff was a paid executive with the Blackhawk Area Council for many years prior to and including 2006.
18. Bickerstaff was a paid executive, employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant BSA for many years prior to and including 2006.
19. Bisterstaff’s work and duties for defendants BSA and Blackhawk Area Council included duties and activities in Winnebago County, Illinois.
20. Prior to the summer of 2006, BSA and Blackhawk Area Council ignored warnings that Bickerstaff was a pedophile.
21. Plaintiff JOHN DOE was enrolled in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for most of his childhood and up until this date.
22. Using his role as Blackhawk Area Council executive as his entree, in July 2006 Bickerstaff sought and gained the trust and confidence of plaintiff’s mother and gained plaintiff’s mother's consent for plaintiff to attend a BSA memorabilia Trade-O-Ree in Lansing, Michigan, and thereafter on several occasions, over the next 9 to 10 months, to spend time alone with Bickerstaff at Bickerstaff’s home and at other locations in Winnebago County, Ogle County and Lee County, Illinois.
23. For the purpose of furthering his duties as a BSA paid executive, Bickerstaff also sought and gained plaintiff’s trust, friendship, admiration and obedience. As a result, plaintiff was conditioned to comply with Bickerstaff’s direction and to look to him as an authority figure.
24. Using the power, authority and trust of his positions as a BSA executive and availing himself of defendants' representations to parents and scouts that the BSA was a moral and safe place for boys, Bickerstaff enticed, induced, directed, coerced and forced plaintiff to engage in deviant sexual acts with him over a 9 to 10 month period.
25. At all times, Bickerstaff was under certain direction, supervision and control of
Defendants BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL and BSA and was otherwise their employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent.
26. At all times, BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL was under the direction,
supervision and control of defendant BSA and was otherwise its servant, agent and/or apparent agent.
27. Defendants, BSA and BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL, were negligent and breached their fiduciary duty in the manner that they screened, hired, retained, and supervised Bickerstaff when said defendants knew or should have known that Bickerstaff posed a threat of sexual abuse to children, and were negligent in one or more of the following ways:
a. Allowed Bickerstaff to routinely be alone with plaintiff for hours;

b. Ignored warning signs that Bickerstaff was using his BSA position to
spend time alone with plaintiff for the purpose of sexually abusing him;

c. Failed to discover, investigate, or question the fact that Bickerstaff was spending time alone with plaintiff and other Scouts, outside of regular troop events or to caution parents regarding such a relationship;

d. Failed to conduct background checks on new or existing scouting leaders, or more carefully screen scout leaders who did not then have and never had sons in Scouting;

e. Failed to timely adopt policies and procedures to protect children;

f. Failed to advise parents of statistical data available to BSA from the ineligible Volunteer Files;

g. Failed to advise parents that the ineligible volunteer file system of ejection of paid executives and volunteers, as the primary method of protecting Scouts from pedophiles, was ineffective;

hg. Carelessly or negligently maintained, reviewed, and updated the Ineligible Volunteer Files;

i. Carelessly or negligently warned and/or failed to warn parents of information regarding adult Scout Masters and their propensity to engage in inappropriate behavior with Scouts;

j. Carelessly and/or negligently failed to communicate information regarding Scout Masters to its operative branches throughout the United States; and

k. Was otherwise careless and/or negligent.

28. As a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned actions by the defendants, plaintiff has suffered permanent injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature, and has been psychologically damaged and continues to be damaged psychologically and to experience mental anguish, humiliation and emotional and physical pain, suffering and distress. Further, as a result of the aforementioned sexual abuse and breach of trust, plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer physical and emotional pain and dysfunction, and both economic and non-economic damages in an amount to be proved at trial.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff, JANE DOE, as mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor, by and through plaintiff’s attorneys, HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ and THE LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY D. KOSNOFF, pray for damages against defendants BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA and BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC. in a sum in excess of $50,000.00, plus the costs of suit, and all other relief permitted by law.


COUNT II – NEGLIGENCE and BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY –
CHARLES "CHUCK" BICKERSTAFF ("BICKERSTAFF”)

1. The Boys Scouts of America (hereinafter "BSA") is the largest youth organization in the United States with approximately five million members. BSA was chartered in 1910 by an act of Congress. An estimated 20% of American boys have had contact with scouting either as members or by attending Scout functions.
2. Throughout its ninety-three year history, the BSA has consistently held itself out to the public as a "moral and safe" environment for boys to participate in healthy outdoor activities and to be given proper guidance and instruction. Millions of parents and scouts have placed their trust in the BSA.
3. Paradoxically, the BSA promotes the wholesomeness of its programs while knowing that since the 1940s it has been secretly removing scoutmasters for child sexual abuse at an alarming rate, which in the 1970s, reached an average of one every three days. Its own records demonstrate that it has long known that scouting attracts pedophiles in large numbers and that scouts, far from being safe, are at heightened risk of sexual abuse by child molesters.
4. JANE DOE is the mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor. At all relevant times, JOHN DOE was enrolled in BSA Scouting programs.
5. Defendant, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA is a congressionally chartered corporation, authorized to do business in Illinois.
6. Defendant, BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL OF BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, INC. (hereinafter Blackhawk Area Council) is an Illinois public benefit corporation.
7. Defendant Charles "Chuck" Bickerstaff ("Bickerstaff”) was a pedophile and sexual predator of adolescent and pre-adolescent boys. Bickerstaff posed a constant threat to boys. 8. Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto a paid Executive of the Blackhawk Area Council.
9. Defendant Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto an employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant Boy Scouts of America.
10. Defendant Bickerstaff was at various times material hereto an employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant Blackhawk Area Council.
11. Defendant Bickerstaff performed duties for BSA and Blackhawk Area Council in counties including Winnebago County, Illinois.
12. BSA's own internal "Ineligible Volunteer Files" (also called "the confidential records"), records it collected and maintained in secrecy for seventy years, reveal that scouting is a pedophile "magnet" and that removed pedophiles were often able to re-enter scouting in other locations. These files were maintained concerning paid executives as well as "volunteers."

13. BSA's confidential records demonstrate both its awareness of Scouting's attraction to pedophiles and the distinctive characteristics of scouting that render scouts particularly susceptible to pedophiles.

14. BSA's confidential records demonstrate both its awareness of Scouting's attraction to pedophiles but also the distinctive characteristics of scouting that render scouts particularly susceptible to pedophiles.
15. BSA knew or should have known that scouting attracts pedophiles, in part, because: a) Scouting provides the pedophile access to boys alone and away from their parents in secluded settings like camp-outs and overnight hikes; b) Scouting provides opportunities for the pedophile to seduce a boy by getting him in situations where the boy has to change clothing or spend the night with him; c) the pedophile scout leader can, depending on the pedophile's age preference, volunteer for and be sure to have access only to boys of a certain age; d) BSA conditions boys to the concept of strict obedience to the Scout Leader and a bonding mechanism that pedophiles crave; e) BSA promotes the idea of secret ceremonies, rituals and loyalty oaths, all of which help facilitate the pedophile's efforts to keep his victims silent and compliant; f) At the time of the abuse, BSA conducted no criminal background checks on its volunteers or even suggested such was advisable.
16. BSA was aware for decades prior to the 1980s that it had ejected thousands of pedophiles from its ranks of leadership in local Scout Troops and failed to inform its Scouts and their parents of that fact. BSA knew or should have known that if they advised parents of this statistical phenomenon, parents might well remove their boys from Scouting, thus depriving BSA of millions of dollars of income.
17. BSA knew or should have known that its "ineligible volunteers" system of keeping track of pedophiles infiltrating its ranks and attempting to eliminate them did not function as it was intended, was flawed, and in many cases ineffective. Despite that knowledge, BSA did nothing to educate its Scouts and their parents of the ineffectiveness of the tracking and screening process and system. BSA did nothing to educate or inform its Scouts and their parents of the enormity of the pedophile problem, nor did it take action to correct its screening and/or education system.
18 Bickerstaff was a paid executive with the Blackhawk Area Council for many years prior to and including 2006.
19. Bickerstaff was a paid executive, employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent of defendant BSA for many years prior to and including 2006.
20. Prior to the summer of 2006, BSA and Blackhawk Area Council ignored warnings that Bickerstaff was a pedophile.
21. Plaintiff JOHN DOE was enrolled in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for most of his childhood and up until this date.
22. Using his role as Blackhawk Area Council executive as his entree, in July 2006 Bickerstaff sought and gained the trust and confidence of plaintiff’s mother and gained plaintiff’s mother's consent for plaintiff to attend a BSA memorabilia Trade-O-Ree in Lansing, Michigan, and thereafter on several occasions over the next 9 to 10 months to spend time alone with Bickerstaff at Bickerstaff’s home, and at other locations in Winnebago County, Ogle County, and Lee County, Illinois.
23. For the purpose of furthering his duties as a BSA paid executive, Bickerstaff also sought and gained plaintiffs trust, friendship, admiration and obedience. As a result, plaintiff was conditioned to comply with Bickerstaff’s direction and to look to him as an authority figure.
24. Using the power, authority and trust of his positions as a BSA executive and availing himself of defendants' representations to parents and scouts that the BSA was a moral and safe place for boys, Bickerstaff enticed, induced, directed, coerced, and forced plaintiff to engage in deviant sexual acts with him over a 9 to 10 month period.
25. At all times, Bickerstaff was under certain direction, supervision and control of
Defendants BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL and BSA and was otherwise their employee, servant, agent and/or apparent agent.
26. At all times, BLACKHAWK AREA COUNCIL was under the direction,
supervision and control of defendant BSA and was otherwise its servant, agent and/or apparent agent.
27. Defendant Bickerstaff was negligent and breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiff in one or more of the following ways:
a. Was routinely alone with plaintiff for hours;

b. Used his BSA position to spend time alone with plaintiff for the purpose of sexually abusing him; and

c. Sexually abused the plaintiff.


28. As a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned actions by the defendants, plaintiff has suffered permanent injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature, and has been psychologically damaged and continues to be damaged psychologically and to experience mental anguish, humiliation and emotional and physical pain suffering and distress. Further, as a result of the aforementioned sexual abuse and breach of trust, plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer physical and emotional pain and dysfunction, and both economic and noneconomic damages in an amount to be proved at trial.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff, JANE DOE as mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor, by and through plaintiff’s attorneys, HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ and THE LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY D. KOSNOFF, pray for damages against defendant CHARLES "CHUCK" BICKERSTAFF in a sum in excess of $50,000.00, plus the costs of suit, and all other relief permitted by law.


COUNT III – CIVIL BATTERY AND INTENTIONAL INFLICTION
OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS –
CHARLES "CHUCK" BICKERSTAFF ("BICKERSTAFF”)

1-26. Plaintiff reasserts and realleges paragraphs 1 through 26 of Count II of this Complaint at law as and for paragraphs 1 through 26 of Count III of this complaint at law.
27. Defendant Bickerstaff routinely spent time alone with plaintiff.
28. Defendant Bickerstaff intentionally made both physical and sexual contact with plaintiff beginning in July of 2006.
29. In the 9-10 months following this initial encounter, Defendant Bickerstaff continued to routinely spend time alone with the plaintiff outside of regular Scout meetings and events.
30. During this 9-10 month period, Defendant Bickerstaff repeatedly and intentionally made physical and sexual contact and advances on the plaintiff.
31. Defendant Bickerstaff knew or should have known that his intentional advances were unwanted, unwelcomed, harmful, and/or damaging to the plaintiff.
32. Defendant Bickerstaff knew or should have known that his intentional physical contact with the plaintiff was unwanted, unwelcomed, harmful, and/or damaging to the plaintiff.
33. Defendant Bickerstaff knew or should have known that his intentional sexual contact with the plaintiff was unwanted, unwelcomed, harmful, and/or damaging to the plaintiff.
34. Defendant Bickerstaff sexually and physically battered plaintiff beginning in July of 2006.
35. Defendant Bickerstaff sexually and physically battered plaintiff repeatedly during the 9-10 month period following the initial July 2006 sexual encounter.
36. Defendant Bickerstaff knew or should have known that his intentional physical and sexual contact with the plaintiff would cause both permanent emotional harm and permanent physical harm to the plaintiff.
37. As a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned actions by the defendants, plaintiff has suffered permanent injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature, and has been psychologically damaged and continues to be damaged psychologically and to experience mental anguish, humiliation and emotional and physical distress. Further, as a result of the aforementioned sexual abuse and breach of trust, plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer physical and emotional pain and dysfunction, and both economic and non-economic damages in an amount to be proved at trial.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff, JANE DOE, as mother and next friend of JOHN DOE, a minor, by and through plaintiff’s attorneys, HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ and THE LAW OFFICES OF TIMOTHY D. KOSNOFF, pray for damages against defendant CHARLES "CHUCK" BICKERSTAFF in a sum in excess of $50,000.00, plus the costs of suit, and all other relief permitted by law.

HURLEY MCKENNA & MERTZ

By: ______________________________________
Christopher T. Hurley
Mark R. McKenna
Attorneys for Plaintiff


HURLEY McKENNA & MERTZ
33 North Dearborn Street, Suite 1430
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 553-4900
(312) 553-0964 - fax
www.hurley-law.com

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