SAN FRANCISCO--()--The Zalkin Law Firm filed a four-count civil lawsuit today in California Superior Court for the County of Solano on behalf of a U.S. military veteran who, as a teenage Boy Scout in rural California, endured years of sexual abuse by a Scoutmaster with known proclivities towards child molestation.
“Cases like his, and the lessons we learn from them, are critical to holding accountable the institutions that we trust to care for our children.”
The plaintiff, Mark Dietrich, joined Boy Scout Troop 180 in Vacaville, Calif. as a 14-year-old in 1978. His Scoutmaster, Gary Hatfield, provided him with alcohol and began grooming him for sexual assault from their first meeting in Hatfield’s mobile home. That abuse continued for as many as four years, despite significant evidence that Hatfield had molested multiple members of Troop 180. Despite two criminal complaints against Hatfield, including one filed by Dietrich in 1992, he was still permitted to remain active in scouting.
“Mark 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 Dietrich. “Cases like his, and the lessons we learn from them, are critical to holding accountable the institutions that we trust to care for our children.”
Dietrich went on to serve 25 years with the U.S. Coast Guard, beginning in 1981. His lawsuit is possible, in part, due to federal legislation that makes the statute of limitations for his claims—which may otherwise have expired—inoperable during his years of military service. That statute, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, provides protection to all members of the U.S. military who suffered abuse prior to entering active service.
Late last year, the Boy Scouts of America released 20,000 pages of documents relating to alleged instances of sexual abuse by more than 1,200 perpetrators within the organization. Known as the Perversion Files, those documents were ordered to be produced by an Oregon judge in separate litigation, tried in 2010, resulting in an $18.5 million punitive damages award against the Boy Scouts of America. Records indicate that since 1991, the Boy Scouts of America have dismissed Scout Leaders suspected of sexual abuse at a rate of one every two days.
The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse, including former Boy Scouts. It has negotiated over $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases.
The firm held a press conference today at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) at The Palace Hotel, San Francisco.
Documents for Dietrich v. Defendant Doe 1, Scouting Organization et al. can be found online here: http://www.zalkin.com/Sexual_Abuse_Blog/2013/January/Press_Materials_for_MARK_DIETRICH_Press_Conferen.aspx
About The Zalkin Law Firm
With offices in New York and San Diego, The Zalkin Law Firm (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.