A Superior Court judge today is considering what damages should be assessed against a man who abused a former Santa Barbara Boy Scout. Whatever amount Judge Donna Geck comes up with is seen as largely symbolic because Al Steven Stein’s whereabouts are unknown, and it’s not believed that he is able to pay a judgment.
Stein, who pleaded no contest to child endangerment after the 2007 molestation when he was a Scout volunteer and 29 years old, is now a registered sex offender and was last heard of in the Salinas area.
Dr. Paul Abramson, a UCLA psychology professor, testified today that the former scout, then 13, has chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and will need continued therapy for an indefinite period of treatment.
It is up to Judge Geck to determine the amount of damages, based on the length and cost of treatment. However Tim Hale, attorney for the boy’s family, said he felt the amount she decides on would be “largely symbolic” because of Stein’s inability to pay. The judge took the matter under submission, with her decision to be announced later.
Last week, after three days of trial, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) agreed to settle the family’s damage suit against the scouting organization. The settlement amount was not disclosed.
Dr. Abramson pointed out that after the sudden attack at a Scout Christmas tree lot, Stein “stalked” the boy at school and fellow scouts bullied him. The top local Boy Scout executive filed a complaint against the family with the county’s child protective services. It was later dismissed.
The shy boy’s reaction to the attack was, “How could this happen to me?” Dr. Abramson said, and if it happened so close to home at a public shopping center, by a man he trusted, with his mother out of sight in the tree lot but nearby, where could he be safe?
[UPDATE: 2/3/15] According to a local attorney, not Tim Hale, Al Stein is living in a cheap motel in Salinas, within a stone’s throw of the probation office. According to Hale, Stein is on SSI. He was not subpoenaed for trial, but in answer to a Notice to Appear at Trial, he wrote that he could not afford to travel to Santa Barbara.