HARTFORD, Conn. — Seventeen men and two women are suing the Boy Scouts of America and local chapters in Connecticut, saying a now-dead scoutmaster sexually abused them when they were children in the 1960s and 1970s. The suit alleges that a few of the accusers were assaulted more than 1,000 times.

The lawsuit filed in state court in Stamford last month claims Boy Scout leaders knew or should have known that Ridgefield Scoutmaster Donald Dennis was a danger to the scouts in his troops and did nothing to protect them from sexual abuse. Dennis died two years ago.

Named in the lawsuit are the national Boy Scouts organization and two local affiliates – the Fairfield County Council and the Connecticut Yankee Council.

The Boy Scouts of America said it had no previous knowledge of any problems with Dennis and only recently learned of the allegations.

“We were only made aware of these allegations last month and had never before received any reports or accusations against this individual by youth members, parents or adult volunteer leaders,” the statement said.

The Irving, Texas-based organization also said that its efforts to protect children have grown in the decades since the lawsuit says the abuse occurred.

Local scout officials referred questions to the national organization.

The lawsuit, which is more than 850 pages, appears to be the largest lawsuit filed in the country – in terms of the number of plaintiffs – against the Boy Scouts alleging sexual abuse against a Scout leader, said Brooke Goff, a lawyer for the 19 Connecticut plaintiffs.

None of the plaintiffs are named. The lawsuit lists each of them as either John Doe or Jane Doe. Goff said the 17 men were scouts ages 11 to 14 when the abuse occurred from about 1962 to 1975, and the two women were minors at the time. The plaintiffs are in their 50s and early 60s now, she said.

Many of the victims suffered psychological trauma that continues to affect them today, she said.