The Boy Scouts of America has been found negligent in a lawsuit stemming from a decades-old <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/New_York_Child_Sexual_Abuse">child sexual abuse case. The 38-year-old plaintiff was awarded $1.4 million dollars in economic damages by an Oregon jury on Tuesday. The trial will resume next week to determine punitive damages.
Plaintiff Kerry Lewis was sexually abused by Assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes thirty years ago. In his lawsuit, he blamed the Boy Scouts of America, its local body, the Portland-based Cascade Pacific Council, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the troop’s sponsor – for failing to protect him from Dykes.
In 1983, Dykes told a bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he had molested 17 boy scouts, including Lewis. He was eventually convicted of various abused charges and spent time in prison. Lewis’ attorneys argued that the Boy Scouts organization was reckless for allowing Dykes to continue to associate with young scouts even after his admission to the bishop.
According to the Associated Press, a key part of Lewis’ case was the introduction as evidence of more than 1,000 secret files kept by the Boy Scouts of America at the group’s national headquarters from 1965 to mid-1984. Nicknamed the “perversion files, the Boy Scouts contended that the files were used to weed out potential child molesters. But Lewis’ attorneys argued the information should not have been kept from parents.
Of the $1.4 million damage award, the Boy Scouts of America is responsible for 60 percent, or $840,000. The Council must pay $210,000. The church had already settled with Lewis, and paid him $350,000.
The jury also determined that Lewis was entitled to punitive damages from the Boy Scouts of America. He is seeking up to $25 million.
According to the Associated Press, from 1984 through 1992, the Scouts were sued at least 60 times for alleged sex abuse with settlements and judgments totaling more than $16 million.
Several other lawsuits filed by men who say they were abused by Dykes are still pending.