Sharing their stories doesn't come easily for these middle-aged men, the AP reports. At times, their eyes well up or their voices crack as they describe being sexually abused in the Boy Scouts and suffering from emotional damage long afterward. Looking back, they all remember vividly how excited they were to become Scouts. "I was real gung-ho about getting my badges—fishing and campfires and all of that," says Darrell Jackson, now a 57-year-old New Yorker. "It was good at the beginning." Jackson, whose unit leader was convicted of sodomy and imprisoned for about 18 months, is among hundreds of men across the US who have recently contacted lawyers for help suing the Boy Scouts of America for sex abuse they say they suffered at the hands of scout leaders.
"In my head, there's still anger," says Raymond Luna, 56, of Poughkeepsie, NY. The shame of being molested "was so big—like it was a secret. During my teenage years up to when I was 33, I totally blocked it out." Many of the men are from New York, which this year adjusted its restrictive statute-of-limitations law. The changes allow victims of long-ago abuse to sue for damages during a one-year window starting in August. New Jersey enacted a similar law this month. California is on track to follow suit. The Boy Scouts acknowledge that sex-abuse litigation poses a financial threat and have not ruled out seeking bankruptcy protection. "We believe victims, we support them," says the BSA's chief executive, Mike Surbaugh. "We encourage them to come forward." (Read about a teen who died when Boy Scouts ran out of water.)