Since 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters has worked to help young people across the country achieve their full potential. It does this by partnering children ages 5 and up, aka “Littles,” with adult volunteers in their community, aka “Bigs”. Today, it is the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network.
The idea is that Bigs will help their Littles learn how to develop meaningful relationships with people outside of their immediate family who can serve as personal cheerleaders and confidants.
Many Littles enjoy positive relationships with their Bigs. Others have suffered at the hands of sexual predators. Attorney Paul Mones and his team are helping these Big Brothers Big Sisters sexual abuse victim-survivors bring their abusers and the organization that empowered them, to justice.
Big Brothers Big Sisters: A Magnet for Sexual Abuse
Youth organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters unfortunately attract child molesters. Littles often come from disadvantaged backgrounds and broken homes, making them especially vulnerable to abuse. Abusers know if they can get named as a Big, they will be encouraged to develop a close, personal relationship with a Little.
This puts abusers in the perfect position to groom their victims. They may start by acting as Big should — spending time with the Little, helping with homework, lending a sympathetic ear, etc. They may then begin to shower their target with special gifts to deepen their bond and build trust. Finally, the touching starts. It may begin with an innocent hug, but it will increase in intimacy until the predator’s sexual urges are being gratified.
A specific example of a pedophile using BBBS to groom victims recently made headlines after a popular radio host was arrested for child pornography and sexual battery. The abuser was a beloved local celebrity that used his job as a radio host to get his Littles backstage passes and meet and greets with music stars. After the events, he would take the child to his home and molest them. Giving a targeted victim special attention and gifts before suggesting or demanding sexual gratification is a classic grooming technique.
Top Brass Knew They Had A Problem
For a variety of reasons, youth organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters fail to vet and supervise their staff and volunteers. Lack of funding, laziness, and a belief that everyone who believes in the organization’s mission is pure of heart all play a role. This is unacceptable.
Even worse is the fact that some organizations know they have a sex abuse problem, and decide to look the other way or even facilitate the abuse.
Since at least the 1980s BBBS has known they have a problem with Bigs abusing their Littles. But it is only relatively recently that the organization has seriously beefed up their vetting and supervision tactics, and put more constraints on Big-Little interactions. For example, some BBBS affiliates recently stopped allowing Bigs to host sleepovers with their Littles.
Any organization that facilitates interactions between adults and children should know they must carefully monitor the adults in the program, and be vigilant when it comes to identifying potential abuse.
Sexual abuse is not something that should be downplayed, ignored, or addressed in-house. It is a crime.
Suspected abuse should always be reported to local law enforcement. Organizations that fail to report abuse, or worse, try to cover it up, must be held accountable for their poor choices. Their actions make them just as guilty as the abusers they chose to protect when they failed to report abuse to the police. Attorney Paul Mones and his team have aggressively gone after many such organizations.
You Are Not Alone
One of the things we hear all the time from the victim-survivors we work with is that they thought they were alone. They were so embarrassed, ashamed, or scared after being abused they closed themselves off from other people, and rarely — if ever — told anyone what had happened to them.
They spent years trying to push memories of the abuse to the back of their mind; never considering that there were other survivors out there dealing with the same pain. Never believing that there would be anyone who would want to hear their story and help them seek justice.
We are here to say that no victim should ever have to feel alone. We are here to stand with you. We are here to hear your story. We will fight for you. We will support you. We are on your side.
Abusers and the organizations that shelter them are the ones who should feel embarrassed and afraid. They are the villains in this story, and we are coming after them.
California Law Gives Victims More Time To Seek Justice
In California, holding abusers and the organizations that empowered them accountable has recently become easier.
On October 13, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 into law. This new law gives past victims of sexual abuse more time to pursue justice. From January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022, anyone who was sexually abused as a child has the opportunity to file a lawsuit and see justice served. Even abuse that was previously determined to have occurred too long ago to do anything about is now actionable. In New York, Governor Cuomo just extended the Child Victims Act to August 14, 2021 for all victims of child sexual abuse, including those who were abused by their public school teachers in New York.
These are important changes in the law because scientific research has revealed that victims of childhood sexual abuse often need years or decades to come to terms with what happened to them.
California victim-survivors who were abused while participating in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program should all consider taking advantage of this new window of opportunity to file a lawsuit.
Victim-survivors may be eligible for compensation, but they will also get the satisfaction of knowing they are part of a movement that will hold abusers accountable and ensure that kids today will not suffer a similar fate.
Contact a Big Brothers Big Sisters Sexual Abuse Attorney You Can Trust
Being sexually abused while participating in a program like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, which is supposed to teach you how to build meaningful relationships with people outside of your family can destroy you. Even years later it can be difficult to trust others because you can never forget how you were once so viciously betrayed.
Decades of working on behalf of victim-survivors of sexual abuse have helped Attorney Paul Mones and his team develop a keen understanding of the emotional and psychological obstacles faced by those who seek to hold their abusers accountable.
He has helped many victim-survivors seek compensation and expose the hypocrisy at the heart of organizations that are supposed to be helping children thrive. His dedication has earned him the trust of victim-survivors who previously believed they had no one they could count on.
If you or a loved one was sexually abused while participating in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program – regardless of when it occurred – please contact our team to discuss your options.