More bad news for the Boy Scouts of America. More than 200 people are leveling new allegations of sexual abuse by the organization’s members, according to USA Today.
The news comes as a team of lawyers demanded during an April 23 news conference that the 109-year-old group provide access to what have been called the “perversion files,” documents that date back to the 1940s and contain the names of nearly 8,000 scout leaders who allegedly abused boys. The files also reportedly include the identities of more than 12,000 victims.
“Nobody would have listened to me,” James Kretschmer, who alleges he was groped by a Boy Scout leader when he was in middle school, told USA Today. “It took me years and years to realize it wasn’t that little child’s fault. It was the adult who had control.”
One 17-year-old boy also claimed to the paper that a scout leader touched him inappropriately 10 years ago and then warned him, “Don’t say anything.”
“For a while, I lived with those three words,” the boy said. “That’s why I didn’t say anything.”
The group of lawyers said Tuesday that they’ve signed up 186 clients in just a few weeks, all of whom want to participate in the case against the Boy Scouts, according to the Associated Press.
“That’s proof that we’ve barely scratched the surface,” said Tim Kosnoff, the attorney leading the legal team. He also said 166 of those victims have identified alleged abusers who have not yet been named in any of the Boy Scouts’ documents.
Kenneth Rothweiler, one of the attorneys involved, told USA Today that only a few of the new claims involve people who were previously accused, and that roughly 90 percent are new.
The Boy Scouts apologized “to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting” in a statement shared with NBC News. “At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers, and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegations to law enforcement.
The organization said in December that as it is facing so many sexual abuse lawsuits, it may file for Chapter 11 protection.
“We have a social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, and we also have an obligation to carry out our mission to serve youth, families, and local communities through our programs,” Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive, said in a statement at the time.
“They’re going into bankruptcy to hide,” Kosnoff said, according to USA Today. “To hide these dirty secrets.”