The mother of a man who committed suicide after allegedly being molested by a Boy Scout leader has filed suit in Philadelphia.
Patricia A. Evasew says her son Thomas J. Evasew was so distraught after being repeatedly molested by former Scoutmaster Charles “Chris” Morris that he shot and killed himself.
At the time of the alleged molestation, Morris was Scoutmaster for BSA Troop 67 of the Chester County Council.
Thomas was an Eagle Scout and was 38 when he died.
His mother’s complaint was filed last month in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages.
It alleges that Morris performed oral sex on Thomas, fondled his genitals and digitally penetrated his anus over the course of several years in the 1980s. Morris also allegedly asked Thomas to perform anal sex on him, which Thomas declined to do.
At the time of the alleged abuse, Thomas was between the ages of 11-15, according to the lawsuit.
On Feb. 1, 2012, Thomas shot himself in the lower face in a parking lot of a building where Troop 67 held its meetings.
The location sent a “loud, clear and unmistakable message” that the young man’s suicide was related to the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Morris, according to the lawsuit.
“My client’s motivation for filing the lawsuit is to make sure Mr. Morris doesn’t repeat his behavior on anyone else in the community,” said Kenneth M. Rothweiler, an attorney for Patricia Evasew. “Thomas went through decades of alcohol abuse and he just couldn’t handle the shame, so he committed suicide.”
In addition to Morris, named defendants include the BSA Chester County Council and the national BSA organization.
The complaint alleges that BSA officials failed to properly screen their Scout leaders, contributing to an environment that was conducive to “thousands” of pedophiles molesting boys.
“Without the active participation of [BSA officials], Morris could not have committed his crimes and inflicted profound psychological injuries against then minor Thomas Evasew,” the complaint states.
The complaint contends that even though Morris was removed as a Scoutmaster in the 1990s, BSA officials didn’t inform the public of his alleged abusive behavior.
The complaint also faults BSA officials for failing to promptly inform the public of its extensive files on pedophiles within the organization.
Patricia Evasew also said she confronted Morris after her son died and he admitted sexually abusing Thomas.
Additionally, Morris’ daughter sent a letter to Patricia Evasew, indicating that her father acknowledged sexually abusing Thomas, according to the complaint.
Morris, of Paoli, couldn’t be reached for comment. He’s never been criminally prosecuted for his alleged acts of abuse, according to court records.
The case has a projected jury-trial date of Sept. 8, 2015, in Courtroom 246 of City Hall.
“This is a tragic situation, and the public needs to know when these things happen, so people who are abused can get help so they don’t commit suicide like Thomas did,” Rothweiler concluded.
The BSA issued this statement about Patricia Evasew’s complaint:
“While we can’t comment on pending or active litigation, the behavior included in these allegations runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands. Although it is difficult to understand or explain individuals’ actions from decades ago, nothing is more important to Scouting than the safety of our youth members. We fully recognize the responsibility we have when parents entrust the development and safety of their children to Scouting, which is why BSA policies have consistently evolved along with increased knowledge and best practices, and the BSA is committed to ongoing enhancement.
“These allegations remind us of the importance to be ever-vigilant when it comes to the safety of our youth. The BSA seeks to prevent child abuse through a comprehensive program of education on the subject, the chartered organization leader-selection process, criminal background and other checks, policies and procedures to serve as barriers to abuse and the prompt mandatory reporting of any allegation or suspicion of abuse.”
The statement added that Morris was banned from Scouting immediately upon notification of his suspected abuse.
From our media partner PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News.