Civil Lawsuit Filed in San Diego by The Zalkin Law Firm Against Boy Scouts by Sexual Abuse Victim

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Victim Suffered Abuse from Scoutmaster Known as Child Molester

Eagle Scout 1991

Drew Belnap Eagle Scout 1991

“Drew suffered horrendous abuse, all the more tragic because it was so easily preventable,” said Irwin Zalkin of The Zalkin Law Firm, the lead attorney for Belnap.

According to Irwin Zalkin, managing partner of the The Zalkin Law Firm, a four count civil lawsuit was filed on June 12th on behalf of a military doctor who, as a teenage Boy Scout in Southern California, suffered multiple acts of sexual abuse by a Scoutmaster with known proclivities towards child molestation. The civil complaint was filed as Drew Belnap v. Defendant Doe 1 Scouting Organization, et. al. , Superior Court of San Diego-North County Judicial District, Case No. 37-2013-00052642-CV-PO-NC.

As an active duty member of the United States military, Dr. Drew Belnap, the plaintiff, is able to bring this case at this time despite the limits of the California statute of limitations, because federal law, specifically the Service Members Civil Relief Act, stops the running of any state statute of limitations for the period of time that a person is active duty military.

According to court documents, Dr. Drew Belnap, Major, United States Army, born April 11, 1974, suffered multiple acts of sexual abuse in the summer of 1991 by long time Scoutmaster John Atwood. That abuse and the sexual abuse of at least two other boys by Atwood, resulted in a criminal conviction in 1992 of serial sexual abuse of minors. Today, John Atwood is a registered sex offender (The People of the State of California v. John Atwood, Case No: FF146448/DA P11040).

Dr. Belnap began his avocation for scouting as a Cub Scout at the age of 6. He joined the Boy Scouts of America when he became admitted to Troop #1871 in La Habra, California at the age of 11. He became an Eagle Scout in 1991. Today, he is a Boy Scout Scoutmaster with a troop connected to his Mormon Church.

According to court documents, Dr. Belnap came to know John Atwood when Dr. Belnap began attending Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley (“Lost Valley”) located in Warner Springs, California in 1989, when he was 15. The camp is operated by the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Atwood was a very popular BSA Scout leader at Lost Valley. Dr. Belnap, like many other scouts, was drawn to Atwood, who is now a convicted sex offender from incidents associated with his affiliation with this camp.

Case Background:

According to court documents, when Dr. Belnap visited Lost Valley Camp, it was an environment rife with the potential for sexual abuse. The availability of alcohol to underage scouts and minors was pervasive. Older scout leaders would assist in purchasing alcohol for younger scouts and would allow them to drink in areas where legally of age scout leaders would drink. Boys and men would shower naked together in open communal showers and spend time drinking and alone together in the ranger’s cabin and other sleeping facilities.

According to court documents, in the summer of 1991, Atwood invited Drew to Lost Valley. He agreed to pick Drew and another scout up and drive them to the reservation. That day, however, the other boy decided not to go and it was just Drew and Atwood. Atwood took a detour and told Drew they were going to go off-roading in Atwood’s big 4 x 4 truck. They would camp that night and go up to Lost Valley the next day. After off-roading, Atwood provided a large cooler with wine coolers and beer and got Drew drunk. That night Atwood sexually assaulted Drew.

According to court documents, the next day Drew told a weekend volunteer at Lost Valley who was a member of the BSA Orange County Leadership Council. Neither this Scout leader nor any other BSA official informed the police. It was not until almost a week later, when Drew told his parents what happened to him, and discovered that Atwood had sexually assaulted another scout, that police were informed by Drew’s father. Atwood was charged and convicted. (The People of the State of California v. John Atwood, Case No: FF146448/DA P11040).

About The Zalkin Law Firm

With offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm (http://www.zalkin.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.

The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse, including former Boy Scouts. The firm has negotiated over $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases.

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