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.
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. The victim, Kerry Lewis, now 38, has said his life has been ruined by abuse he suffered in 1983 and 1984, when he was just 10 and 11 years old. Lewis said he turned to drugs to deal with the abuse.
Assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes had previously admitted to a Mormon bishop , who was also a Scouting coordinator, that he has abused 17 other Boy Scouts. Yet his involvement with the Scouts continued.
Lewis' lawyers 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.