Iowans who were sexually abused by Boy Scout troop leaders decades ago could get much less money from a national settlement than victims in other states unless state lawmakers act this month to change Iowa law. Iowa’s current time limit on suing perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse means hundreds of Iowa victims could get as little as 30% of the money they’re entitled to from the settlement.

Joe Gargano of Fort Dodge is one survivor who’s been asking lawmakers to change the law. Gargano says it made him angry to find out he would get less money than survivors in other states.

“I said: ‘I’m not just going to settle after all this time,'” he told lawmakers. “‘I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to just take whatever they throw out.'”

Gargano is a constituent of of Republican Senator Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge. Kraayenbrink is sponsoring a bill to ensure the victims in the Boy Scouts settlement get full compensation.

“We have to push pretty hard to get it done here before the end of session and also meet the requirements of Boy Scouts of America as well,” Kraayenbrink says. “We’re going to see if we can get it through and, with the governor’s approval, hopefully we can get that done.”

Kraayenbrink’s bill is narrowly written, so it only applies to the Boy Scouts settlement. In 2021, the legislature eliminated the time limit for filing criminal charges related to child sex abuse, but survivors of child sex abuse must file lawsuits in civil courts seeking damages by the age of 19 — or within four years of coming to the realizing they were victims of sex abuse as a child.

(By Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)

Radio Iowa