Plaintiff Was Sexually Abused in 1981–83 While a Member of Troop Six in Atlantic City
Richard Halvorson Seeks Healing, Justice and Release of All BSA Perversion Files
(Atlantic City, NJ) – Richard Halvorson gets another chance at justice today after filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America under New Jersey’s new Victim’s Rights Bill.
Halvorson, 48, Atlantic City, was sexually abused as a minor by his Scoutmaster Angelo “Skip” Dellomo in approximately 1981-1983 when he was a member of Troop 6 in Atlantic City. Dellomo sexually abused Halvorson in a bathroom in Dellomo’s home under the guise of helping Halvorson earn a physical fitness badge.
In 1987, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) refused Dellomo’s further registration as a scout leader and created a “Perversion File” for him after BSA received other reports of Dellomo engaging in similar inappropriate conduct with naked boys in the troop as part of the fitness requirement. Perversion Files are a subcategory of BSA’s Ineligible Volunteer Files and contain the names and information of adult leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse.
New Jersey’s Victim’s Rights Bill became effective on December 1, 2019. The new law extends the statute of limitations and provides a two-year window for sexual abuse survivors to bring lawsuits in cases that were previously barred by the statute of limitations, no matter when the abuse occurred or how old the survivor is.
Richard Halvorson’s Pursuit of Justice
Halvorson has had to live with the abuse for nearly 40 years. He did not talk about the abuse until 2013, when he told his mother. In 2013, he came forward to law enforcement and attorneys but nothing could be done due to New Jersey’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for Halvorson to file a civil lawsuit against BSA for the abuse had long since expired.
Nevertheless, Halvorson came forward again in April 2019 when he filed a lawsuit against BSA. In the suit, Halvorson asserted claims of public nuisance and civil conspiracy against BSA for interfering with public safety by concealing the full scope of sexual abuse of minors in New Jersey and withholding the information from the public and law enforcement, said his attorney, Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates. Halvorson asked the court to order BSA to release all of its Perversion Files. The suit implemented unique legal claims that have yet to be widely accepted, Anderson said. In November, the court dismissed Halvorson’s complaint, noting that the case “presents a novel issue that has not heretofore been addressed by the courts in this state.”
With the new Victim’s Rights Bill, Halvorson is now able to take action for himself and for others. The lawsuit filed today includes claims of negligence against BSA and the Jersey Shore Council for the abuse by Dellomo under the new law. The lawsuit also includes a claim for injunctive relief, asking the court to order BSA to publicly release all Perversion Files; publicly disclose the names, histories and last-known addresses of all perpetrators; discontinue its practices and policies of dealing with child sexual abuse secretly; and work with civil authorities to create and implement better child-protection policies.
“Richard is able to seek healing and justice, not only for himself but also for countless children who will be protected by his actions to hold this organization accountable and expose its secrets,” Anderson said.
Threat to Public Safety
The focus on child safety and public nuisance is heightened in a case like Dellomo’s, where the perpetrator may still be at large, Anderson said. Dellomo is believed to be alive and living in the Atlantic City area. In addition, public records searches indicate that Dellomo is associated with and is an Atlantic City-area contact person for a youth organization called Boy Pioneers of North America. Dellomo’s perversion file listed his occupation as “school teacher” and recent reports indicate that he was a teacher in Egg Harbor Township, retiring in 2009.“Dellomo may still be out there hurting kids,” Anderson said. “This is a good example of why BSA needs to release all Perversion Files—so that the public at least has a chance of knowing where these perpetrators are. Child safety depends upon it.”
BSA has maintained Perversion Files since the 1920s, Anderson said. It is believed that BSA has made public only approximately 5,000 Perversion Files and that it is keeping secret thousands more. By doing so, BSA is putting kids at risk, he said.
In 2012, BSA was forced to disclose more than 1,200 Perversion Files for child sexual abusers who worked for BSA between 1965 and 1985, as part of a lawsuit brought by a survivor in Oregon. In January 2019, defense expert Dr. Janet Warren testified in a Hennepin County (Minnesota) trial involving The Children’s Theatre Company that she was hired by BSA to review all BSA Ineligible Volunteer files from 1944-2016. Her review revealed an astounding 7,819 Boy Scout sexual misconduct perpetrators and 12,254 victims from 1944-2016. It is unknown how many of the 7,819 perpetrators BSA has disclosed publicly, Anderson said.
In August, Anderson and his firm, representing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a Minnesota scoutmaster, sought the public release of the 1,538 Perversion Files in Ramsey County District Court. The files were produced during litigation by BSA under seal, not to be released publicly. The court denied Anderson’s request to make the files public. Anderson respects the court’s decision but believes BSA should release the files voluntarily to protect children.“
Richard Halvorson and other survivors shouldn’t have to ask a judge to order the Boy Scouts to do the right thing and release these files,” Anderson said. “The Boy Scouts should do it on their own. The Boy Scouts are more interested in protecting themselves than protecting children. Richard Halvorson’s courageous steps today will help ensure that changes.”