BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — An Erie County jury has awarded $25 million to a child sex abuse victim against a local Boy Scouts scoutmaster.
The judge on the case said this is likely the first jury verdict for a Child Victims Act case in New York State.
The victim’s attorney said the verdict awarded an even higher amount of money than was suggested to the jury.
She said it not only covers the injuries from the actual assaults but also the frequency they occurred, three years, and the 50 years of impact.
The victim, referred to as LG 40 Doe in court filings, is now 62 years old.
Attorney Amy Keller said starting when the man was 12, he was sexually assaulted by his scoutmaster, Robert Eberhardt, in a Boy Scouts troop in Cheektowaga from 1970 to 1973.
“The biggest challenge was explaining the reason why, why come forward now 50 years after it happened and my client was able to say that in his own words why he came forward now and it wasn’t not only to hold the defendant, the perpetrator, accountable but he also testified it felt like society was finally ready to listen ready to hear that this had happened and maybe they’re finally ready to take a stance that it’s not gonna happen anymore,” Keller said.
Eberhardt will have to pay $15 million for pain and suffering and $10 million in punitive damages for the abuse he inflicted.
“I feel like it just is gonna set a precedent in the sense of it’s not just the assaults themselves that jurors are going to recognize as the injures but it’s also the ongoing post traumatic stress disorder, the depression, the anxiety, any other issues whether its alcohol or substance issues, I feel like they took all of those injuries into account. The feelings of feeling guilty or shame or responsibility in what happened how that weighs on a person.”
Keller saID this verdict reassured her client that what happened wasn’t his fault.
“I feel like other victims will feel comfortable coming forward and telling their story where maybe they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to or maybe they would’ve avoided a jury trial because they think maybe my peers aren’t gonna believe this happened or they’re not gonna understand what I went through and I feel like this jury made it clear they did do that here and I have every hope that would happen again.”
The law firm represents more than 100 victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Additional matters in this case are pending against the Boy Scouts and the organization that held the troop meetings led by Eberhardt.