A Multnomah County jury has found that the Boy Scouts of America — along with the regional Boy Scouts chapter and the Mormon church that sponsored that chapter — were negligent in failing to protect a scout from an abusive assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s. The suit was brought by Kerry Lewis, who was sexually abused by assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes. Lewis was awarded $1.4 in non-economic damages. He has also asked for punitive damages of $25 million; jurors will deliberate on those damages at a later date. Boy Scouts of America has already announced that they will appeal.
At the heart of the case were the so-called perversion files that the Boy Scouts of America kept for their internal use. In order to weed out potential volunteers who were unfit for the Scouts, they kept lists not just of “child molesters, thieves and johns but also gays, atheists and agnostics.” Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that despite such careful record-keeping, and despite the fact that Dykes admitted to Scout officials that he’d molested 17 boy scouts, he was still allowed to associate with the troop.
What’s your experience with the Boy Scouts? Did you participate as a scout, or a volunteer? What lessons have you taken from this trial? What parallels — and what differences — do you see between this story and the ongoing scandal in the Catholic church?
- Amelia Templeton: Reporter for OPB News
- Bart Mitchell: Bend resident who became an Eagle Scout in 1990
- Patrick Boyle: Editor of Youth Today and author of Scout’s Honor