Army Doctor Files Civil Lawsuit Against Boy Scouts of America

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Drew Belnap and his lawyer discuss a lawsuit filed against Boy Scouts of America, claiming Belnap was sexually assaulted. Diana Guevera reports. (Published Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013)

    Military anesthesiologist Dr. Drew Belnap, 39, claims he was sexually abused by  then Scoutmaster John Atwood, several times back in 1991. 

    Belnap was 17-years-old, an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, when the alleged incident occurred.

    But for Belnap, that memory only reminds him of something he would rather forget.

    "In the summer of 1991, I was sexually abused,” said Belnap, a Major in the U.S. Army stationed in Colorado.

    Belnap says he met Atwood during Boy Scouts camp in the Lost Valley, just outside of Warner Springs. He also says Atwood was Scoutmaster at the time.

    In court documents filed Wednesday, Belnap is suing the Boy Scouts of America after he claims that Atwood got him drunk and sexually assaulted him several times.

    He also claims minors were required to share sleeping facilities with adults and shower together.

    “Alcohol was pervasive and, in the case of Dr. Belnap and many others, was used to groom young boys into sexual conduct,” said Irwin Zalkin, Belnap’s Attorney.

    But more than 20 years later, the 39-year-old father of three says he has forgiven Atwood but that he has not forgotten the ordeal.

    Now a Scoutmaster himself, he wants to make sure this abuse never happens again.

    “It’s not enough to just come up with a policy," said Dr. Belnap. "That policy needs to be reinforced."

    NBC 7 reached out to the Boy Scouts of America for their response and Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations for the Boy Scouts of America sent us the following statement:

    "Youth protection is of paramount importance to the Boy Scouts of America. Recognizing that this commitment requires sustained vigilance, the BSA has continued to develop and enhance its efforts to protect youth. The BSA requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse."

    John Atwood is now a registered sex offender and was convicted of sexually assaulting Drew Belnap and another minor back in 1992.

    Belnap was able to file his case since he's an active duty member of the U.S. Army. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, military members are exempt from any state statute of limitations while that person is active duty.

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