A Multnomah County jury has awarded more than $1 million to a man who was molested by a Boy Scout master in the 1980s.
The jury found the Boy Scouts of America negligent in failing to remove the man from scouting after he confessed to molesting children.
In testimony earlier in the trial, plaintiff Kerry Lewis said that for more than twenty years, he told no one he had been molested by his scout master. But he said felt hollow inside, struggled with drugs, and had trouble relating to people.
Lewis bowed his head as Multnomah County Judge John Wittmayer read the jury¹s verdict against the Boy Scouts.
John Wittmayer: "Was defendant Boy Scouts of America negligent? Answer : Yes. Was defendant Boy Scouts of America's negligence a cause of damage to the plaintiff? Yes."
The jury awarded Lewis $1.4 million for pain and suffering.
Lewis' attorneys argued that the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America failed to train its local partners in how to handle cases of abuse, and that the organization knew it had a problem with pedophiles in scouting.
In a statement posted on its website, the Boy Scouts said it will appeal the verdict.
During the trial attorneys for the Scouts made several arguments in the group’s defense.
They said that in the 1980s, the Scouts knew very little about pedophiles, and made a reasonable effort to keep them out.
Charles Smith is an attorney for the defense. He argued that local troops are independent from the national Boy Scouts of America.
But the jury didn¹t agree. They assigned 60 percent of the negligence in the case to the Boy Scouts of America.
The jury also found the Cascade Pacific Council, an Oregon and Washington branch of the Scouts, negligent, but to a lesser degree.
Jurors also agreed to award punitive damages, judging that the Boy Scouts of America acted with reckless indifference to the safety of child scouts.
Next week, the jury will consider how much to award in punitive damages. The plaintiff has asked for $25 million.
Key evidence in the case is contained in six boxes of confidential Boy Scout files. The files contain records from scout headquarters on suspected abusers.
Tuesday, the Boy Scouts' attorney told Judge Wittmayer that the organization will renew its request that those documents remain secret.
Judge Wittmayer: "Mr. Smith, I want to make sure the record is clear. I understand that on behalf of your client, you object to the release of these materials, is that correct?"
Charles Smith: "That is correct your honor."
The judge said he was likely to keep the files from being released publicly unless media groups sue for access.