An eighth plaintiff has filed suit against the Kerr County boys camp where an Australian pedophile dubbed “Zirus the Virus” molested boys under his supervision 10 years ago.
In a complaint filed this week, attorney Mike Sawicki states that his client, W.L., was sexually abused at the age of 7 by Scott Ash James Zirus at Camp Stewart, where Zirus worked as the lead counselor.
“During his stay, W.L. was sexually abused by Zirus on several occasions,” the complaint states. “W.L. reported Zirus would crawl into his bed during the night or have him join Zirus in his own bunk. While there, Zirus would touch W.L.’s genitals and whisper that he loved him. W.L. reported that Zirus would often masturbate while he was holding him.”
Sawicki said his client has struggled with memories of the abuse and has tried to understand why he had been selected for it.
“This emotional turmoil confused his budding sexuality and caused him to have flashbacks and question his own sexual identity,” states the complaint. “This emotional turmoil impacted his relationship with his parents and friends, his ability to concentrate and his school work. W.L. has been struggling with depression and psychological trauma as a result of Zirus’ sexual abuse.”
As of July 2014, seven families had settled with Camp Stewart in cases involving allegations of child abuse by Zirus. Zirus, who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for abusing boys at the camp, claimed to be a founder of a religion called
Shadoran, which reportedly promoted sexual activity at any age.
According the Sawicki’s complaint, Zirus’s religious writings were available on the internet at the time he was under consideration for employment at Camp Stewart.
The complaint alleges that Camp America, which was interviewing potential counselors for Camp Stewart, failed to check Zirus’s references, failed to verify the man’s employment and volunteer work claims and failed to check his internet presence, all of which “violated the industry’s safety standards.”
The complaint names as defendants Camp Stewart for Boys Inc., American Institute for Foreign Study Inc., and Camp America.
The latter two defendants were involved in selecting personnel to serve as
camp counselors in the United States, including Zirus.
Sawicki said Zirus was allowed to violate Camp Stewart policy by using an Australian flag to shield his bunk, and by bunking near the kids out of sight of the two other junior counselors in the same building.
The complaint asks the federal court in San Antonio to award damages of an unspecified
The terms of settlements in previous cases involving the same defendants are confidential and haven’t been disclosed to the media.
Jeeper Ragsdale, the owner and director of Camp Stewart, offered the following statement when approached by The Kerrville Daily Times:
"Nothing is more important, or given a higher priority, than the safety and well-being of our campers, counselors, staff and visitors. Allegations related to Mr. Zirus were first made in 2009. At that time, Camp Stewart fully cooperated with authorities and for the last nine years, Mr. Zirus has been in prison.
Extensive efforts are made to screen counselors and staff, and to put procedures in place to keep campers safe.
Prior to campers arriving, we require every counselor and staff member to attend a professionally taught sexual misconduct training course where they are provided education, instruction and awareness training on how to recognize, prevent and report sexual misconduct.
For the last 95 years, Camp Stewart has taken pride in providing a positive and supportive environment where campers can grow into well-rounded leaders of the future, and we will continue to do so. Finally, we wish to express our deepest sorrow to any young man or woman that has suffered any form of abuse.
As this matter is in litigation, we do not feel it is appropriate to comment any further."