San Diego Child Sex Abuse Survivors to File Lawsuits Against Boy Scouts of America

Lawyers say a former San Diego Boy Scout volunteer was convicted of child molestation and then moved to a Virginia council

San Diegans will have their day in a New Jersey courtroom against the Boy Scouts of America for what lawyers say was an active cover-up of child sexual assault and molestation.

A coalition of lawyers from Seattle and New Jersey claim the Boy Scouts of America kept detailed secret records of adult volunteers it deemed “ineligible” to volunteer due to sexual abuse of children.

The lawyers list 11 “ineligible volunteers” from San Diego and Chula Vista which they found in Boy Scouts of America files. A full list of alleged “ineligible volunteers” can be found here.

One alleged abuser, Max C. W. Kelly, 80, was convicted of child molestation charges and registered as a sex offender in California in 1976 while leading groups in the San Diego Boy Scout community.

The lawsuit claims BSA did not remove Kelly from the organization. Instead, they placed him on probation and moved him to Virginia where he then registered with the Blue Ridge Mountain Council.

“Those working at the Boy Scout headquarters in New Jersey knowingly allowed sex predators to volunteer – and as a result, those Scout leaders kept gaining access to children and abusing them,” said Michael T. Pfau, a sexual abuse attorney.

A recent New Jersey law changing the statute of limitations for those claiming sexual abuse allows alleged abuse victims to sue up until age 55 or within seven years of realizing the childhood abuse caused harm. They have a two-year window beginning Dec. 1, 2019.

Pfau added, “Under the New Jersey law, those who have suffered sexual abuse in California can now take action against the Boy Scouts if they were abused when their headquarters were in New Jersey.”

Letters between a scout executive in Virginia and the BSA director of registration detail the organizational response to Max C. W. Kelly’s positions within BSA.

In a September 1983 letter to the San Diego Council, Blue Ridge Mountain Council Scout Executive Randall E. Beaver wrote, “Mr. Kelly is now talking about becoming a Scoutmaster and we feel that we must take some action to protect the boys that would be in his troop, as well as ourselves.”

Paul Ernst, Director of Registrations, took over communication regarding Kelly’s registration.

“Have you heard anything since that time that would strengthen our file and enable us to refuse registration wherever he might move?” Ernst wrote in April 1984.

After months of correspondence, Ernst wrote in a July 1984 letter, “The information which you originally gave us sounds serious enough that registration should be refused. Without more information, however, we just cannot refuse the registration.”

Ernst added that if Beaver had more information then they would place Kelly on a “precautionary basis.” Lawyers claim Kelly remained active in scouting the whole time Ernst carried out this “investigation.”

Kelly was asked to formally leave the organization by the council in Virginia on August 28, 1984—nearly one year after it had been discovered that he had been convicted of child molestation. The document also listed Kelly was married with five children.

The Virginia representative wrote, “It is absolutely unforgivable that the San Diego Council did not report this problem to you eight years ago. It would have been a simple matter for them at that time. It has been a nightmare for us.”

In April of 1985, Ernst wrote back that they “have now placed this man on the Confidential File.”

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