14 April 2010

Jury Awards Former Boy Scout US$1.4 Million in Sexual Abuse Trial

Teusday after jurors of a Multnomah County Circuit Court ruled the Boy Scouts of America as being negligent and ordered to pay non-economic damages of US$1.4 Million, Kerry Lewis and his mother, Helen Caldwell embrace.

Kerry Lewis, the plantiff in this case is one of six men suing the Boy Scouts of America. Identified as "Jack Doe #4", Lewis testifies uneasily about being an 11 year old Boy Scout alone with his troop leader in 1983. When on the witness stand being asked what happened he commented, "He grabbed by hand. And he slid it up his leg. Into his shorts."

Troop Leader Timir Dykes had already admitted to molesting seventeen boys, but parents weren't notified. In a deposition, Dykes admitted to molesting Kerry Lewis.

But Dykes isn't on trial here. This is a case against the Boy Scouts of America, who kept confidential files on Dykes and thousands of molesters, intended to keep them out of Scouting, but ultimately to keep the incidents quiet. How the Scouts handled the case of the former Scout Leader was at the center of the lawsuit claiming they hid decades of information on abuse to protect their organization.

Kelly Clark, the attorny representing the six men with lawsuits against the Scouts says that in the 1980's the Scouts knew that atleast one of the boys had been abused by Dykes. And though he was removed as a Scout leader, he was allowed to be a volunteer, and the abuse continued.

When Lewis' mother took the stand, she testified that she only found out about Dykes' past when she and her husband recieved a phone call from the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office in July of 1984.

The police stopped Dykes for a broken tail light as he was driving several Scouts, including their son, for a camping trip on the beach. After checking Dykes' records, he was arrested and the parents of the boys were called.

Caldwell testified that after her husband talked to a Morman Bishop who organized the local Scout progam, trying to describe the look on her husband's face by saying, "he was just stricken."

"I had never seen that look on his face before," she said. "He said they knew he had been arrested for this ... that he had this restriction that he wasn't to be in the company of minors and they felt that it was OK because he had repented."

Dykes was commented on as being "larger than life", said Lewis. "I just wanted ot soak up his knowledge."

Caldwell only learned the truth in 2007. When she originally asked if Dykes had sexually abused her son, he denied it. It was when a case surfaced including several Scouts saying they had been abused by Dykes that she was compelled to ask her son again had he been touch inappropriately, which she said he then confirmed.

Nine out of 12 jurors found Boy Scouts of America and its local body liable for 60 percent of the negligent. The jury said the Cascade Pacific Council, which overseas Scouting activities in the region, was 15 percent negligent and the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints 25 percent negligent.