Former Boy Scout leader, Boy Scout council, church are named in abuse lawsuit
A former Rochester scoutmaster is at the heart of a civil lawsuit that is expected to be filed Monday in Olmsted County District Court, which is believed to be the first civil lawsuit involving the Boy Scouts of America using a new Minnesota law.
Two men claim several adults failed to protect them from sexual abuse at the hands of their Boy Scout leader, Richard C. Hokanson, who sexually assaulted them during the 1970s while they were in Rochester Troop 210. The new Minnesota law eliminates the civil statute of limitations for children who are sexually abused.
A news conference is scheduled at 11 a.m. Monday outside the Olmsted County Government Center to discuss the details, including damages sought, said the men's attorney, Jeff Anderson, who has represented thousands of victims of sexual abuse in high-profile cases against the Catholic Church and Penn State University, and who will lead Monday's news conference.
The new law also allows a three-year window for past victims of childhood sexual assault to file lawsuits against the accused abuser and/or an institution that may have allowed the abuse. St. Pius X Catholic Church, the troop's sponsor; the Boy Scouts of America; and Gamehaven Council Inc., of southeast Minnesota, are also named as defendants.
Anderson said he will introduce one of the alleged victims, who will offer a prepared statement.
According to a news release from Anderson's office, the conference will also discuss "the failings of multiple adults involved at St. Pius X, the troop and the Boy Scouts, who received information in the early 1970s pertaining to Hokanson's sexual abuse, and failed to act to protect the children..."
Hokanson, now 77, lives in Faribault. He is believed to have spent 22 years as a Boy Scout leader and held other positions in the Rochester area involving youth activities. A phone number listed in his name has been disconnected.
A message seeking comment from St. Pius X was not returned Friday; no one was available for comment from Gamehaven Council, a woman there said.
In October 2012, the Boy Scouts of America released approximately 1,200 "perversion files" documenting reports of sexual abuse by scoutmasters and adults leaders from 1965-1985.
Hokanson was among 23 Scout leaders from Minnesota named in the file. He was sent to the Minnesota Security Hospital for treatment after pleading guilty in 1983 to one of three felony sex abuse charges stemming from his tenure with the Rochester troop. His file referred to allegations involving 16 other boys that were documented by scouting officials but never prosecuted.
After his hospital commitment in 1983, Minnesota corrections records show, Hokanson was imprisoned for 40 months on a 1994 child sex-abuse conviction. In 2008, he was sent back to prison on a probation violation; he was let out in March 2012 on "intensive supervised release," which includes 24-hour-a-day electronic monitoring.