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Boy Scouts accused of negligence in abuse lawsuit involving priests

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Two former Albuquerque priests alleged to have participated in “sex parties” with children in the 1990s gained access to boys in another arena – by becoming Boy Scout leaders, according to a new lawsuit.

One vulnerable boy, who started in Cub Scouts and Webelo scouting, was “groomed” by the then-priests as early as 1980, culminating in “sexual abuse of all kinds” by 1983 to 1985 and for several years after he left scouting, according to a lawsuit filed against The Boy Scouts of America and the organization’s Great Southwest Council in New Mexico.

The lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts and its New Mexico nonprofit organization contends that then-Catholic priests Robert Malloy and Ronald Bruckner were leaders in an officially sanctioned Boy Scout troop that operated out of Our Lady of Assumption parish through a charter with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Both Bruckner and Malloy are on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. Their names surfaced in a recent lawsuit that alleges the two took children to sex parties that were sometimes filmed.

That lawsuit, filed against the archdiocese and the parish Nov. 26, is now part of a Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy case filed by the archdiocese last week.

The case against the Boy Scouts alleges that the organization was negligent because it “knew or had reason to know that Malloy and Bruckner had abused boys in their care at a time prior to, or during the time the plaintiff in the case was in their troop.”

At no time did officials of the Boy Scouts of America inform the boy or his family that the organization kept a list of known pedophiles, “which they themselves called ‘the perversion files,’ ” the lawsuit contends.

“From at least the 1960s, if not earlier, (the Boy Scouts) knew that Scout Leader positions were being used by predatory child molesters to victimize children and that defendants had an institution-wide or systemic child abuse problems, but Plaintiff’s family was never so informed,” the lawsuit says.

Both Malloy and Bruckner, through the power granted to them by Boy Scouts, befriended the plaintiff in the case, now in his 40s, and his family, and they gained the support of his family to spend substantial periods of time alone with him, even sleeping together on camping trips, the lawsuit says.

The abuse started on Cub Scout events such as trips to Cochiti Lake and the Jemez, and included trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico.

The unidentified plaintiff continues to suffer debilitating and severe physical, mental and emotional injury, the lawsuit contends. It also says that it was not until 2018 that the plaintiff knew or had reason to know “that the abuse … arising from grooming and raping while in Cub Scouts and Webelo Scouts, resulted in the injuries alleged.”

Malloy and Bruckner couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The Boy Scouts organization, like the Catholic Church, has faced an onslaught of sexual abuse lawsuits in recent decades, and in 2010 an Oregon jury ordered the Boy Scouts to pay $18.5 million in damages to a former scout who claimed he was abused in the 1980s.

Chris Shelby, scout executive/CEO at the Great Southwest Council, told the Journal in a statement Tuesday that the organization cannot discuss pending litigation but said, “Youth protection is always our top priority, and nothing is more important than the safety of our youth members. One incident of child abuse is one too many. We care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed in our programs.”

Shelby said the Boy Scouts continues to strengthen its efforts to protect youths by screening adult leaders and staff, with criminal background checks. Two or more adult leaders must be present with youths at all times during Scouting activities. Prompt reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse is required.

SF victims sought after priest’s arrest

Federal authorities are looking into reports that an American Catholic priest arrested last week for sexually abusing minor boys in the Philippines worked at a Santa Fe school in the 1970s.

The arrest of Kenneth B. Hendricks, 77, of Cincinnati, in the Philippines came after federal Homeland Security Investigations received information on Nov. 13 alleging sexual exploitation of minor Filipino boys.

Hendricks is charged as a U.S. citizen with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, a federal crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He is being held in Manila.

Records indicate Hendricks was at St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe in the 1970s, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio. He left the school in July 1979, but federal authorities said Tuesday that they didn’t know when he arrived there.

Potential victims and those with information about his alleged conduct are being asked to call an Homeland Security Investigations hotline, 513-246-1461.