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Boy Scouts Sued By Ramsey Co. Official Over Sex Abuse Claims

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A former boy scout has come forward with claims his scoutmaster sexually abused him for years.

Jim McDonough is chairman of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. He's suing the Boy Scouts of America. The lawsuit alleges the leadership program protected predators to safeguard the Scout brand and image.

McDonough said the abuse began in 1967, when he was 12.

"For four years I was sexually assaulted by my scoutmaster," McDonough said.

The now 60-year-old is suing the Boy Scouts of America for failing to protect him.

"Boy Scouts of America, this shame is yours," he said. "You protected predators and put children at risk to protect your brand, to protect your image."

McDonough said the alleged abuse started at the First Covenant Church in St. Paul, where his troop met, and continued on campouts and at scout camp. He feels the repeated abuse affected him immensely.

"It was my fault, it was my shame, and it defined me, so my response was to medicate that pain with a lot of drugs and alcohol," McDonough said.

His scoutmaster, Leland Opalinksi, was convicted of sexually abusing another boy in 1971. He died last year.

McDonough never told anyone what he says happened to him, but he said the Minnesota Child Victim's Act allowed him to finally come forward. It gives adult survivors of child sexual abuse until May 2016 to file a civil lawsuit for past abuse.

"It created the opportunity for me to have conversations with my family and my children that I've never ever been able to have," McDonough said.

He wants the Boy Scouts held responsible for what he calls their inaction years ago and to make sure they take action in the future.

"Institutions such as Boy Scouts of America must change," McDonough said. "No more protecting current and past predators."

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000. McDonough said he'll let a jury decide what they think he is owed for what he went through.

The Boy Scouts of America has not responded to the lawsuit.

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