The Boys & Girls Club of America is the nation’s largest youth development nonprofit. Its 4,000 local chapters serve around four million children a year. It provides allegedly safe places for children to learn, grow, and develop.
While many “Club kids” benefit from positive experiences at their local clubs, others have suffered at the hands of sexual predators. Attorney Paul Mones and his team are helping these victim-survivors bring their abusers and the organization that harbored them to justice.
Boys and Girls Club’s Noble Beginnings
The Boys & Girls Club of America has been around since 1860. It was founded by a group of women in Hartford, Connecticut who believed that the young men they saw roaming the streets needed something better to do. That first club focused on “capturing boys’ interests, improving their behavior and increasing their personal expectations and goals.”
The organization grew from there, spreading across the country, and eventually providing programming on character development and workforce readiness for girls as well as boys. In 1956, the organization was granted a Congressional charter, meaning the federal government officially recognized the mission and goals of the organization as being in the national interest.
Today, local clubs provide important recreational and after-school services to children in need. The clubs are run by paid staff but rely heavily on volunteers.
A Breeding Ground For Abuse
In any institution that facilitates interaction between children and adults, there is a risk that at least some adults who volunteer have less than good intentions. Such organizations are a magnet for abusers who know they will be in the position to groom potential victims and have ample opportunities to get victims alone.
Attorney Paul Mones and his team have seen this play out too many times. Paul has represented victims abused by Boy Scout leaders, priests, ministers, coaches, employers, teachers, and guidance counselors. As reports of abuse at Boys & Girls Clubs across the country mount, Paul is readying his team to help these victims seek justice.
You Are Not Alone
One of the most heart-breaking things we hear from our clients is that they thought they were alone. Until they saw a story on the news about others who were abused, or something in their mind clicked they thought they were the only one who went through what they did. They lived for years trying to push memories of the abuse to the back of their mind. They spent years thinking they did something wrong instead of blaming the predator that hurt them, or the organization that failed them.
We are here to say that nobody is alone. We are here to stand with you. We are here to spread the word that victims are not to blame. Abusers and the organizations that shelter them are the villains in this story.
Abusers gravitate to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of America because they know if they get their foot in the door they will get unfettered access to children who have been told they are in a safe place and everyone in the organization is a friend who can be trusted. This puts abusers in a position of power, and gives them access to easy targets.
We know this is what happens because we have seen it in other organizations, and we are starting to get calls from victims as the word spreads about abuse in the Boys & Girls Club of America. Already, more than 200 people from over 30 states have come forward to say they were abused as a “Club kid.”
Some of the abuse is recent, and some of it happened decades ago. No matter when it happened, someone needs to be held accountable, and victim-survivors deserve the opportunity to have their story heard so they can begin to heal.
New Statute of Limitations Law Opens a Window of Opportunity
Although scientific research has revealed that victims of childhood sexual abuse often need years or decades to come to terms with what happened to them, our legal system typically gives victims a very small window of time to seek justice. However, a new California law is giving survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time.
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, even if their claims were previously time-barred.
California victim-survivors now whose cases were previously time-barred by the old statute of limitations are being given a three-year period in which they may file suit. From January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022, anyone who was previously stopped from suing because their case was deemed too old has a second chance to seek justice. Victims may be eligible for compensation, but they will also get the satisfaction of knowing they are part of a movement that will hold enabling institutions accountable and ensure that kids today will not suffer a similar fate.