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Indiana Scouts proud of their own

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A small paperweight sits on attorney Terry White’s desk in Evansville, reminding him of an organization and motto that’s been a central part of his life since childhood.

No matter the issue he faces in the legal world or in his personal life, he knows that he can always find guidance in the phrase close to his heart.

“Once an Eagle, always an Eagle,” the veteran attorney at Olsen White & Hambidge says, referring to the Boy Scouts of America and the Eagle Scout rank he earned.

The Southern Indiana lawyer who’s been practicing for more than three decades said he hasn’t stopped holding his head up proudly about the organization, despite recent headlines that tell of Scout leaders in other states sexually abusing children and a new multi-million-dollar verdict in an Oregon case.

A jury in late April found the Boy Scouts of America liable for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy more than 25 years ago, smacking the national organization with an $18.5 million punitive damages award on top of the initial $1.4 million verdict earlier in the month. The jury found that the Texas-based organization failed to protect the now-38-year-old Portland man by not removing the Scout leader despite his past conviction as a sex offender. He is among six men suing the Boy Scouts over allegations of sexual abuse.

During the trial, attorneys produced documents that were said to be part of an archive of previously secret Boy Scout files that chronicles decades of abuse.

Under Oregon law, 60 percent of a punitive damages award goes to the state’s crime victims’ fund – set up much like the system in Indiana. The Boy Scouts must pay $840,000 while the region’s Cascade Pacific Council must pay 15 percent, or $210,000. A church that had sponsored the troop the plaintiff belonged to had previously settled and paid the 25 percent amount of $350,000.

The Boy Scouts organization has said it didn’t know about the Scout leader’s record, and once leaders did learn of it they acted immediately and cooperated with police, attorneys have said. A written statement from the Boy Scouts in early April said the group intended to file an appeal of the verdict.

The organization said the safety of kids currently in the programs hasn’t been a question in the Oregon proceedings; only about what society and the group knew about child abuse three decades ago.

“We are gravely disappointed with the verdict. We believe that the allegations made against our youth protection efforts are not valid,” the statement said. “We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideas of the Boy Scouts of America.”

On the national level, legal experts speculate that the Oregon verdict could spark a floodgate of litigation on abuse claims – similar to what the Catholic Church has faced involving accusations of priest abuse. But in Indiana, attorneys and judges who have been involved in Scouting for most of their lives say they aren’t focused on what happened in Oregon. They remain upbeat about the Boy Scouts of America here in Indiana and nationally.

“This doesn’t cloud what we’re doing,” said Indianapolis attorney Steven Pockrass of Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, who is an Eagle Scout and volunteers with the Crossroads of America Council for the Boy Scouts. “Talk about the verdict here hasn’t come up on my radar, and I think that what the public is thinking about now are those values and attributes that the organization has embraced throughout our Scouting life.”

Though unconnected with the case, Indianapolis plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Chamberlain said this verdict served its purpose. He doesn’t know of any connection or litigation here in the state, but he said he hopes that everyone with the organization will take note of what happened in Oregon.

“The system is designed to address past harms and also prevent future harms, and there’s no reason to second guess the verdict here,” he said. “As an organization, you hope they learn and are cognizant of what’s happening around them, especially when you see a large verdict like this. All organizations that deal with the most vulnerable people in our society will learn from these large verdicts and have to address those issues.”

LewisWagner attorney John Trimble, who has worked on the defense side for churches, camps, and day-care centers through the years, said he’s seen cases like this involving sexual abuse, and he’s defended the insurance-coverage aspects. Most have been putting safeguards and procedures in place for at least the past decade to prevent these actions but also defend themselves in litigation.

“Every time there’s a verdict anywhere in the country against an organization that deals with the supervision of children, all local organizations that deal with children have to be concerned,” he said. “No question this is on the front burner. Each time we see a verdict, we’re reminded of the necessity of safeguarding children and having those procedures in place.”

The Oregon verdict comes at an otherwise celebratory and historic time for Boy Scouts of America, which is marking its 100th anniversary in 2010 at the national level and within Indiana is seeing an expansive and massive fundraising and membership campaign.

The Crossroads of America Council of the Boy Scouts of America launched the public phase of a $16 million campaign last year, aimed at enhancing and expanding the reach of Scouting throughout central Indiana. That helped pave the way for a new $5.5 million state-of-the-art facility on the northeast side of Indianapolis, which opened recently to provide education and support for thousands of volunteers and Scouts.

Scout Executive Scott Clabaugh for the Crossroads of America Council in the middle third of Indiana said that the Scouting activities remain strong, and the group membership and fundraising levels are growing in this 100th year. The council has about 34,000 children involved and 10,000 volunteers, he said.

The national litigation has forced Clabaugh to meet with volunteers and look at national policies and how those are implemented locally, but he remains confident in the organization.

“Scouts is a strong part of this community fabric and we’re proud to be so,” Clabaugh said. “We are always saddened when someone in the Scout movement abuses their position of trust. But we do our best to prevent that as we can, and we’re thriving here in central Indiana.”

Some of the highest-ranking members of Indiana’s legal community have their roots in the Boy Scouts, such as the state’s Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard who is an Eagle Scout from Evansville and recently spoke at a celebratory dinner event about the centennial.

Marion Superior Judge David Certo wrote in an e-mail to Indiana Lawyer that he’s disheartened when news of the Oregon litigation is mentioned, especially because it has nothing to do with what he describes as the important work done by the organization in central Indiana. Growing up in Richmond, he earned his Eagle rank with one of the oldest units in the state at the time. The judge has been involved in Scouting and volunteered for years, and said his life has been shaped by the Scouts. Focusing on the Oregon litigation does a “disservice” to the work of everyone such as Chief Justice Shepard, Sen. Richard Lugar, and former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith who all “continue to use the lessons we learned in Scouting to make Indiana a better place to live, work, and raise a family.  No one would write an article about the history of the Indiana Supreme Court and mention that an Alabama justice was removed for alleged misconduct.”

In Evansville, White said his Native Trails District in that part of the state has concerns about what’s happening nationally but that they’ve not seen anything like that “in our own backyards.” He is proud of the efforts the Scouts overall have made to vet leadership and volunteers since he was a kid and says that those safety efforts are important.

“While you always worry about a taint and the broad brush you might be painted with, its part of society and you have to focus on what you do,” he said. “We keep our chin up and know that we’re judged based on what we do here.”

Indianapolis attorney Mark Glazier echoed his Scout brothers’ sentiments, describing the outside issues as unfortunate but a good reminder that predators can target all youth organizations.

He plans to take his 11-year-old son to summer camp this year, and he hopes he’ll someday see his son become the family’s third generation Eagle Scout – Glazier’s dad earned his rank three weeks after Pearl Harbor. The second-generation Eagle Scout said he’s reassured by his own organization, one that he joined as a child and stays with him now as an attorney.

“Without Scouting, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said, proudly pointing out that his Eagle Scout plaque hangs on the wall right next to his attorney oath. “I’m certainly sad about the circumstances as they happened in Oregon, but I’m always going to be a big proponent of the Boy Scouts. You can’t judge the bushel by an apple.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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