SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A California man is suing a regional Boy Scouts council, alleging he was sexually abused by his scout leader more than 30 years ago.
Coast Guard veteran Mark Dietrich filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Solano County Superior Court claiming the scoutmaster of his Vacaville-based troop frequently molested him between 1978 and 1981.
The suit claims that Boy Scouts officials at the local and regional level knew the scoutmaster had inappropriate contact with other boys.
At a Wednesday news conference in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, Mark Dietrich, 49, said the abuse has caused him a lifetime of shame, therapy and counseling.
“I’ve reached a transition point in my life. It’s a time to simply transition from being a victim to being a survivor and an advocate,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, said Dietrich was just 14-years-old when Gary Hatfield, Vacaville’s then scoutmaster of Troop 180’s grooming began.
“Hatfield said to Mark, ‘You know, one of the things that we like to do and we want to teach you is survival skills. What would you do if you were naked in the woods? How would you survive? In fact, why don’t we practice?” Zalkin said.
Hatfield denied the allegations to the Associated Press and said he hardly remembered Dietrich. The 60-year-old Navy veteran now helps run the Nevada branch of a breakaway scouting organization.
Neither the Boy Scouts’ Golden Empire Council nor the national organization would comment on the suit, the latest in a string of sexual abuse lawsuits brought against the Boy Scouts of America or its affiliates.
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