Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who made a career defending victims of sexual abuse, passed away from cancer-related causes Tuesday at the age of 56. He won high-profile cases against the Boy Scouts of America and the Portland Archdiocese and helped push for laws to extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Before he rose to prominence as a defender, Clark served as a state representative from 1989 to 1993. He was an early Republican champion of gay rights and was gaining a strong reputation at the capitol, but he experienced a fall from grace that included a battle with alcoholism and pleading guilty to sexual assault.
From that low point, Clark began a new path as an advocate for victims of abuse, and also as a prominent member of the addiction recovery community. One of the steps of Alcoholic Anonymous is to help other people, and as his legal partner Steve Crew says, “he took that seriously. He helped other lawyers who were struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.”
Clark received a masters in divinity recently, and Crew says he thought Clark might leave his legal practice to become an Episcopalian priest. His wife, Sabine Moyer Clark, died of ALS in October at 49.