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$1.4M Verdict in Boy Scouts of America, LDS Church Molestation Case

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 14, 2010 12:50 PM

Yesterday, a Portland, Oregon jury awarded $1.4 million in damages to a plaintiff who had accused the Boy Scouts of America together with its local body, the Portland-based Cascade Pacific Council, and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, of negligence in failing to prevent his molestation by a Scoutmaster in the 1980's. The jury also found the defendants liable for punitive damages, which could reach up to $25 million and will be decided during the next phase of trial.

According the report by the Associated Press, attorneys for plaintiff Kerry Lewis (who agreed to let the AP use his name) successfully argued to the jury that the Texas-based Boy Scouts organization was negligent in allowing former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to continue to associate with the victim's Scout troop after Dykes admitted to a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he had molested 17 boy scouts.

The LDS Church (better known as the Mormon Church) was also a defendant in this suit. According to a report by The Oregonian, the Church which had coordinated Lewis' Scout program in Southeast Portland, was also found liable by the jury. However, the Church had previously settled with the plaintiff and will not have to pay additional damages stemming from the verdict. 

Plaintiff Kelly's attorney, Kelly Clark, specializes in representing molestation victims. The AP reports he was possibly only the second person to get the Boy Scout "perversion files," introduced into evidence during trial. The Boy Scouts organization claims they used these secret documents to keep pedophiles out of their organization. However, Clark argued the files were kept secret and confidential and not used to successfully keep potential molesters away from young scouts. According to the report, there were 1,000 files kept by the Scouts on alleged pedophiles dating from 1965 to mid-1984 which could be used in the Portland trial.

The accused Scout Master in this case, Timur Dykes, was later convicted three times of various abuse charges involving boys and served time in prison. Shortly before this trial, he admitted in a deposition to abusing the plaintiff.

The Oregonian reports that the Boy Scouts of America have put a statement regarding the verdict on their website which reads in part, "We are gravely disappointed with the verdict. We believe that the allegations made against our youth protection efforts are not valid... We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America."

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