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Abused US boy scout wins $18m in further damages

By May 12, 2010March 19th, 2024No Comments

By BBC News Network

A sexually abused former US boy scout has been awarded punitive damages of $18.5m (£12m) at a trial which cast light on the organisation’s workings.

The order against the Boy Scouts of America for negligence was made by an Oregon jury. It is on top of an earlier award of $1.4m in compensatory damages.

Kerry Lewis, now 38, was abused by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1980s.

The BSA was planning to appeal against the court verdict, insisting it had always stood against child abuse.

During the trial, lawyers won the right of access to the Boy Scouts’ secret files on suspected sexual predators.

These documents, formally known as “ineligible volunteer” files and nicknamed the “perversion files”, have been compiled for nearly a century, since the organisation was formed.

They were kept under lock and key at BSA headquarters in Irving, Texas, and the organisation argued in court that its system was put to good use, quietly keeping out molesters for decades.

But Mr Lewis’s lawyers argued that the BSA should have brought the files out into the open decades ago, and the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that jurors should be allowed to see about 1,000 of the files, from 1965-85.

Allegation disputed

When he was aged 11 or 12, Mr Lewis was abused in Portland by a former assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes. Dykes, now 53, was later convicted three times of sexually abusing boys, and served time in prison.

Timur Dykes in an undated file photo provided by the state of Oregon

Timur Dykes has been convicted three times of abusing boys

The jury found that Dykes had been allowed to associate with scouts despite admitting to a BSA official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.

However, the BSA strongly disputed the allegation that Dykes was allowed to continue associating with scouts, insisting he was ejected from scouting after the 1983 confession.

BSA officials declined to comment on details of the case to the Associated Press because other cases were pending but they issued a statement saying they had “always stood against child abuse of any kind”.

Patrick Boyle, editor of the Youth Today newspaper and author of a book about sex abuse within the BSA, said he was surprised at the size of the damages.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “This is by far the biggest award against the Scouts for sex abuse, probably by several times.”

Between 1984 and 1992, the BSA were sued at least 60 times for alleged sex abuse with settlements and judgments totalling more than $16m, Mr Boyle said.

Mr Lewis will not receive the full damages awarded. Under Oregon state law, 60% of any punitive damages finally paid out must go to the state crime victims’ fund.