Another former St. Paul Boy Scout sues, alleging sexual abuse by former troop leader


Another Minnesota man is suing the Boy Scouts of America and the Minnesota Scout council, alleging he was sexually abused 40 years ago by a Scout leader.

The plaintiff, a 54-year-old St. Paul man identified as John Doe 153 in court papers, accuses the Boy Scouts and its local organization, the Northern Star Council, of negligence and fraud in connection with alleged abuse by Leland Opalinski, a former Scout volunteer who has also been named in other lawsuits, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Opalinski died in 2014 at the age of 73.

Opalinski abused the plaintiff "dozens of times" between 1967 and 1971 in several locations, including at his home, during Boy Scout camping trips and at the church where the scout troop regularly met, according to the lawsuit filed by Minneapolis attorney Patrick Noaker.

It also claims that Opalinski took nude photos of the boy, who was 12 to 16 years old when the abuse occurred.

“Our client has lived in fear that these photographs will someday resurface," said Noaker. "He wants them destroyed.”

At the time of the alleged abuse, Opalinski was a leader for the St. Paul-based Boy Scout Troop 12 and was also an Explorer advisor for Troop 2012.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court; it's the fifth such lawsuit to be filed in Minnesota in the past two months and the fourth to name Opalinski as the alleged abuser, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

One of those suits was filed last month by Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, who said Opalinski sexually abused him when he was in the Boy Scouts at about the same time as John Doe 153.

Bid to release confidential ‘perversion files’

The latest suits make a public nuisance claim against the BSA, which is intended to lead to the release of files kept by the BSA in the way that similar suits forced the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to disclose the names of priests accused of sexual abuse.

The plaintiffs claim the Boy Scouts kept so-called “perversion files” on alleged pedophiles, and allowed some of them to continue as scout leaders despite their behavior.

A judge in Oregon ordered the Boy Scouts to release hundreds of those files in 2012, including one on Opalinski. The current lawsuits argue more of those files should be released to the public.

Opalinski left the Boy Scouts in August 1971 when he was arrested and charged with abusing a boy, according to the BSA's file on him. He was sentenced to serve seven years' probation, according to the Pioneer Press.

Boy Scouts response

The Northern Star Council is facing at least nine lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by former leaders or volunteers, MPR News reports. They were allowed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act - the same state law that has led to the spate of legal action against the local Catholic Church.

The law created a short window of time for people who were victims of child sexual abuse decades ago to file suit. That window closes in May 2016.

The Northern Star Council is still trying to determine whether any damages it might need to pay will be covered by insurance, according to MPR News.

Council spokesman Kent York, responding to the latest lawsuit, told MPR the organization is "profoundly saddened" when any children are harmed, and noted that child protection protocols are "much more advanced" than they were when Opalinski was involved in scouting more than 40 years ago.

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