A close up of a Boy Scout uniform. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

A close up of a Boy Scout uniform. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

‘Staggering’: Everett Boy Scouts face more sexual abuse lawsuits

The complaints allege decades of abuse went unaddressed at the Fire Mountain Scout Camp in Mount Vernon.

EVERETT — Victims are suing a Snohomish County Boy Scout council, alleging systemic sexual abuse at the Fire Mountain Scout Camp in Mount Vernon decades ago.

The plaintiffs claim the Boy Scouts of America and the Everett-based Mount Baker Council allowed sexual abusers to be scoutmasters, according to the three lawsuits filed in Snohomish County Superior Court since February.

“The Mount Baker Council and the fire mountain camp had significant problems,” said Seattle-based attorney Michael Pfau, whose firm represents the defendants and other litigation against the Boy Scouts.

To date, Pfau’s firm has filed 10 sexual abuse cases against the local BSA council.

The complaints allege the Mount Baker Council knew, or should have known, that leaders Michael Mauch, Garth Snively, Charles Grewe and Allen Ewalt had a history of sexually abusing children in the past, and still allowed them to volunteer.

In a statement responding to The Daily Herald, scout executive Kevin Nichols of the Mount Baker Council said the safety of its troops are the top priority.

“The behavior described in this complaint is reprehensible and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” Nichols said. “Our hearts go out to the survivor and their loved ones. Nothing is more important than the safety and protection of children in our Scouting programs — it is our top priority.”

The council said safeguards are now in place to protect against abuse, including: a thorough screening process, banning one-on-one situations where adults would have any interaction with children and immediately informing law enforcement of any sexual abuse allegations.

The Boy Scouts are structured through local councils that oversee scouting in different counties. The Mount Baker Council is responsible for all troops in Snohomish County.

Pfau said the evidence is different in each case. The Boy Scouts kept thousands of files documenting scout abuse, called the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” that dated back to at least 1919, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Scouts held the files close, but records from 1965 to 1991 were made public after court orders, Pfau said.

For many of the allegations, criminal charges were never filed. The documents were never shared with parents or children, Pfau said.

The lawyer claimed because of the number of perpetrators, abusers were often allowed to move to different troops to volunteer.

In one of the recent cases, scouts reported Grewe had molested them in 1979, but it was never disclosed to authorities, according to the lawsuit. Grewe was also a school bus driver for the Everett School District in the 1980s and was allowed to continue working at the Fire Mountain Scout Camp, until he was arrested on accusations of molesting children on his bus route in 1987, according to his Ineligible Volunteer File. He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1989.

In 1965, Ewalt was an Iowa Scoutmaster that sexually abused children and was removed, according to the lawsuit.

Sixteen years later, Ewalt rejoined the scouts in the Mount Baker Council, the lawsuit said. He was hired as a health and safety officer at the Fire Mountain Scout Camp, where he sexually abused scouts under the pretext of “medical treatment,” according to his Ineligible Volunteer File. After being reported to law enforcement, Ewalt was removed in 1987, the file reported.

The abusers are a few among thousands of leaders within the Boy Scouts organization found to have been sexually abusing children. In Everett, another case in which troop leader Garth Snively molested a scout was filed in April 2022.

Snively pleaded guilty to molesting children in 1993 and was sentenced to over 10 years in prison. He later admitted abusing dozens of other boys.

The plaintiff in the Mauch case reported the abuse has haunted him since it was committed almost 50 years ago.

Scout officials documented Mauch’s sexual abuse at the Fire Mountain Scout Camp in the 1970s, according to the lawsuit.

Pfau said Mauch was later barred from volunteering at the camp, yet he was allowed to register again as a troop leader in Anacortes. In 1981, Mauch reportedly pleaded guilty to statutory rape, according to his Ineligible Volunteer File.

“They knew for decades that their scout troops were being infiltrated, and they didn’t warn anyone,” he said. “Parents weren’t allowed to make their own choice about whether scouting was safe for their children.”

In 2020, the National Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy. The amount of litigation against the Scouts alleging sexual abuse helped bankrupt them, Pfau said. In the federal bankruptcy case, more than 82,000 sexual abuse claims have been documented, he said. $2.46 billion was allotted for victims — coming from the national organization, local councils and insurance companies.

Pfau said his firm, Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, plans to file more lawsuits against the Mount Baker Council.

“The amount of abuse within the Boy Scouts is really staggering,” Pfau said. “Assume that 82,000 is an under-reported number.”

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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