Lawsuits expected as dozens of WNY Boy Scout leaders accused of sex abuse
Ronald C. Williams has served prison sentences in three states for child sex abuse felony convictions over the past 28 years.
But Williams’ penchant for sexually abusing children goes back to when he was a K-9 patrolman on the Buffalo police force and volunteered with the Boy Scouts, according to Bob O’Donnell of the Town of Boston.
O’Donnell said Williams, who had been his Cub Scout leader, abused him at least 10 times in the mid-1970s, when O’Donnell was 13 or 14 and Williams took him canoeing and camping on Eighteen Mile Creek.
“The guy pretty much raped me, more than once, by giving me enough alcohol so that I didn’t even realize what was going on,” said O’Donnell, who is now 54.
Williams is among the more than two dozen Western New York-area Boy Scout leaders since the 1950s who have been accused of molesting children or of sex-related offenses. Nineteen were charged with crimes.
When a one-year window opens in August allowing decades-old claims of sex abuse to be heard in New York courts for the first time, some attorneys said the number of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America could rival or even surpass those facing Catholic dioceses.
O’Donnell has hired attorney Jason P. Amala of Seattle to sue the Boy Scouts, under a new state law that gives potentially thousands of survivors of sex abuse by Scout leaders an opportunity to seek justice in a civil court.
Court orders since 2012 in other parts of the country have made public the names of about 5,000 Scout leaders who were accused of abuse in internal Boy Scouts of America “Ineligible Volunteers” documents known as the “perversion files.”
Amala said he believes the names revealed in the files amount to a fraction of the overall number of Boy Scout perpetrators.
“Most of the people that we have represented over the years have been abused by Scout leaders who are not in the files,” he said.
In 1974, the Boy Scouts approved the registration of Kenneth Dingman on a two-year probationary term, even though Dingman’s name had been on the ineligible volunteer list since 1971, according to the Scouts’ files. Dingman ended up pleading guilty to sexual abuse in 1975.
In another instance, Richard J. Aycott was banned in 1961 due to conviction of impairing the morals of a minor, according to the Scouts’ files. Nonetheless, the Greater Niagara Frontier Council in 1973 recommended to the national organization that Aycott be allowed to register again on a probationary period. It’s not clear from the files whether Aycott resumed being a Scout leader.
The Boy Scout files also don’t mention at least four Buffalo priests affiliated with the Scouts who were named to the Buffalo Diocese’s list of clergy with substantiated allegations of abuse: the Rev. Samuel Venne, the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits, the Rev. Joseph A. Schuster and the Rev. James H. Cotter.