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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Boy Scouts Settle With Abused Scouts Rather than Face More Portland Trials

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 3:35 PM

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The largest single collection of documented sex abuse cases that the country has ever known. An estimated 6,000 to 18,000 victims, whose abuse was recorded over 60 years but never reported to police. That's what local lawyers Paul Mones and Kelly Clark say lies within the Boy Scouts of America's "perversion files", 20,000 pages of secret files that currently reside in Clark and Mones' office, piled in cardboard boxes and unable to be viewed by reporters despite a Multnomah County judge ruling in June that they were public record. More on the files here.

While the perversion files are hung up in a state court appeal, Mones and Clark gathered reporters this morning to tell them the big news from the landmark sex abuse cases they filed against the scouts three years ago: the six victims whom scout leader Timur Dykes abused during the 1980s have decided to settle with the scouts for an undisclosed sum.

The settlement shows that the Boy Scouts were definitely shaken by the verdict a Multnomah County jury handed down to victim Kerry Lewis in May: nearly $20 million in punitive and emotional damages. Facing five more lawsuits like Lewis's, which attracted national attention to the fact that the scouts recorded complaints about sex abuse within its ranks but repeatedly failed to notify police or protect children from abuse, was clearly a scary idea for the Scouts.

Today's settlement legally confirms guilt on the part of the Scouts, but when asked whether the scouts had ever apologized to him, Lewis replied firmly, "No." Lewis told reporters this morning that he was happy for the settlement because it means no more years of legal fighting in his, or his troop-members', future.

"I just want to say I'm glad this is over. Children in the future will have more protection than I did," said Lewis.

The troop members had fallen out of touch over the past two decades, but came out of the woodwork to file the joint lawsuit. According to the lawyers, Lewis was approached to settle on his own earlier in the process and declined, wanting a settlement for all six victims or their day in court.

The lawyers credit Lewis's case with sparking two reforms among the scouts: the hiring of the scout's first youth protection coordinator with actual experience dealing with sexual abuse issues and making youth protection training mandatory for all scout leaders. They also made comparisons between these cases and those leveled against the Catholic Church over the past decade. "Children in the Catholic Church are safer now, not because priests found the Holy Spirit but because they got sued," said Clark.

Now, if only we could dig through those files...

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