Yet another man is charging the Boy Scouts with failing to protect him decades ago against a former St. Paul adult scout leader who allegedly abused him dozens of times when he was an adolescent and took naked photographs of him.
The scout leader, Leland "Lee" Opalinski, has been named in three other civil suits against the Boy Scouts of America since late June, when Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough announced he was seeking damages from the Scouts and the local Northern Star Council for four years of sexual abuse by Opalinski.
In a civil suit filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, John Doe 153 charges that Opalinski repeatedly had "sexual contact … [and] penetration" with him between 1967 and 1971, when he was 12 to 16.
The abuse allegedly occurred at First Covenant Church on St. Paul's East Side, where the troop was based, and at various camps and Opalinski's home.
What makes the suit different from the others are the child pornography allegations, as well as the fact that the plaintiff was one of two boys with whom Opalinski admitted taking "indecent liberties" in a 1971 court case. His guilty plea resulted in seven years' probation and banishment from scouting.
Doe 153 is haunted by the possibility that the pictures of him, which he never saw, might still exist, Minneapolis attorney Patrick Noaker said. Opalinski shot them with a 35-millimeter camera but didn't have a darkroom, which suggests he had help in making them, he said.
"The porn just shows the extent of the sexual assaults occurring here, and how calculating [Opalinski] was. This was a very intentional, deliberate, serial pedophile," Noaker said.
Noaker added that he has talked with other men who claim to be victims of Opalinski, including one who said he was abused in the mid-1980s.
Opalinski, a bakery route salesman in his mid-20s when the abuse allegedly occurred, died last year at age 73.
Kent York, a spokesman for the Northern Star Council, said that improvements in child protection have made scouting one of the safest environments for juveniles.
"We are here for all children and are profoundly saddened when any child is ever harmed by anyone," he said.
McDonough's announcement last month helped open the door to other victims, who had imagined that they were the only ones molested by Opalinski, Noaker said.
Since then, Opalinski has been at the center of two other sexual abuse suits against the Scouts: a public nuisance claim filed by St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, and a negligence claim filed by another man who once belonged to the First Covenant troop and says he was abused over a five-year period.
The suits all charge that Opalinski's misconduct was foreseeable, given the records that the Scouts kept on adult leaders suspected of being pedophiles. York said that all of the Scouts' Ineligible Volunteer Files (also called "perversion files") have been shared with law enforcement officials. Not everyone accused of abuse has been publicly named by the Scouts, although they are barred from scouting.
Noaker said that Doe 153, now 54 and living in St. Paul, filed the suit to support McDonough and make a difference in how children are protected.
"But he doesn't relish going back and bringing back those painful memories," Noaker said.