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Oregon jury finds Boy Scouts negligent in sex case

PORTLAND, Ore. — A jury delivered an embarrassing rebuke to the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday when it found that the organization failed to protect a man who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s.

Jurors awarded $1.4 million to the former Portland man and decided that the Irving, Texas-based organization was liable for up to $25 million in punitive damages that will be decided in a separate phase of the trial.

Over the first three weeks of testimony, secret Scout "perversion files" — records of known sex offenders — were used as evidence, though it's unclear if jurors consulted the documents while deliberating over two days.

The Scouts denied allegations of negligence and said the files actually helped them keep child molesters out of their ranks.

Lawyers for Kerry Lewis, 38, the victim who filed the lawsuit, argued the Boy Scouts organization was reckless for allowing former assistant scoutmaster Timur Dykes to continue to associate with the victim's Scout troop after Dykes acknowledged to a bishop for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in 1983 that he had molested 17 Boy Scouts.

Dykes was later convicted three times of various abuse charges involving boys and served time in prison. Shortly before trial, he acknowledged abusing Lewis in a deposition.

The church was the charter organization for an estimated third to one half of the Boy Scout troops in the nation in the 1980s.

The Boy Scouts must pay $840,000, or 60 percent, of the $1.4 million verdict while the Cascade Pacific Council must pay 15 percent, or $210,000.

The church's $350,000 portion, or 25 percent, was considered part of its settlement so that money has already been paid, said church attorney Steve English.

In court on Tuesday, Lewis tried not to react as the verdict was read but gave his mother a long hug afterward.

At least five other similar claims are pending against the Scouts.

Oregon jury finds Boy Scouts negligent in sex case 04/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 11:39pm]
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