- Associated Press - Friday, February 14, 2014

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - A sex-abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America survived a legal challenge Friday and is set for trial later this year in California.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Donna Geck rejected allegations of negligence against the Scouts at a hearing Friday, but she said a 13-year-old former Scout could nonetheless pursue the organization in court for failure to properly educate Scouters about the dangers of sexual abuse, the Santa Barbara News-Press reported.

The judge will also allow the plaintiff to pursue punitive damages.

The lawsuit was filed by a boy who alleges he was molested by a Scout leader while working at a troop-sponsored Christmas tree sale in Goleta in 2007. The abuse occurred when the boy’s mother stepped away for a moment and he was left alone with a 400-pound former Eagle Scout who was acting as a volunteer leader, the claim alleges.

The boy’s attorney, Timothy Hale, had argued in court papers that the Boy Scouts were liable for negligent supervision because another Scout had previously reported inappropriate behavior by the volunteer leader, Al Stein.

But Geck found that the previous complaint to a local executive of the Los Padres Council never reached the national organization and that the Boy Scouts cannot be held liable for the actions of local councils, troops and their employees and volunteers.

What will proceed to trial, instead, is whether the Boy Scouts properly educated and warned the plaintiff of the dangers of sexual abuse, even at the hands of Scout leaders and volunteers, according to the judge’s tentative ruling.

The court last year ordered about 120,000 pages of internal Boy Scout files from across the nation turned over to Hale.

Those papers, which date from 1991 and on, remain sealed under a protective order until they are introduced as evidence at trial.

The Scouts have previously been forced to reveal files dating from 1960 to 1991.

Paul Ryan Ortuno and Craig Price, attorneys for the defendants, did not immediately return calls or emails from The Associated Press.

Stein ultimately pleaded no contest to two counts involving the plaintiff and another boy, the newspaper reported.

The trial is scheduled for Oct. 3.

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