A $29 million sex-abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America is in the hands of a jury after a lawyer for the victim closed the case by arguing the Scouts failed to act when they knew they had a serious problem. Watch local CBS video.
In closing arguments, Kelly Clark said the organization had been keeping a list of Scout leaders and volunteers suspected of abuse since the 1920s but never came up with any system to improve screening, reporting or prevention.
Clark compared it to food poisoning, arguing that if Scouts were getting sick on a regular basis, something would have been done to prevent it.
But a lawyer for the Scouts, Chuck Smith, told the jury the organization relied on local Scout leaders and volunteers to take action because they were supervising the boys — not the national organization.
A Portland man filed the suit against the Scouts and their Cascade Pacific Council, claiming they were negligent for failing to prevent abuse of Scouts. Kerry Lewis, the victim, has said his life was ruined by the abuse, which ocurred in 1983 and 1984, when he was just 10 and 11 years old.
Assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes had previously told a Scouting coordinator, who also was a Mormon bishop, that he had sexually abused 17 other scouts. Yet his association with the Boy Scouts continued.
Lawyers for Lewis have introduced more than 1,000 files on Scout leaders or volunteers accused of abuse from 1965 to the middle of 1984 as part of the case.
The attorneys argue the secret files show the Boy Scouts knew about the problem but did nothing to protect boys over the years.
The Scouts say the files helped protect boys by weeding out suspected molesters.
The trial lasted three weeks and included testimony from several victims and various state and national Scout leaders. Video here.