April 13th, 2010
05:57 PM ET

Jury holds Boy Scouts negligent in sex-abuse case

Jurors in Portland, Oregon, awarded a former Boy Scout $1.4 million after finding Tuesday that the organization was negligent in allowing a Scout leader who was a sex offender to have contact with him.

The three-week trial ended with Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge John A. Wittmayer polling the jurors, who confirmed they had found the negligence contributed to damage to the plaintiff as claimed.

The jury ruled that the plaintiff is also entitled to punitive damages, to be determined beginning Tuesday in the trial's second phase. How the Scouts handled the case of the former Scout leader, Timur Dykes, was at the center of the explosive lawsuit.

Attorney Kelly Clark, who has represented six men suing the Scouts, would not discuss the case until after the punitive phase. Prior to the trial, he alleged that, when his clients were boys during the 1980s, the organization knew that at least one of them had been abused by Dykes.

He also alleged that, though Dykes was removed as a Scout leader, he was allowed to stay on as a volunteer and the abuse continued. CNN was not able to reach Dykes. Clark produced documents that he said were part of an archive of previously secret Boy Scout files that chronicled decades of abuse of boys.

The Scouts' lawyers said the organization had not known about Dykes' record nor had it known about an outstanding warrant at the time. Once the Scouts did learn about it, the organization acted immediately and cooperated with police, the Scouts' lawyers said.

A Boy Scouts spokesman has acknowledged that the organization does have confidential files, but said they are made confidential in order to protect people who are ineligible to be Scout leaders but who may not have done anything illegal.

A Scouts spokesman said that, in recent years, the organization has taken extensive measures to keep abusers out. In a written statement, the Scouts said the organization intends to  appeal.

"We are gravely disappointed with the verdict," it said. "We believe  that the allegations made against our youth protection efforts are not valid."  It added, "We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions  of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideals of  the Boy Scouts of America.

"The safety of the young people currently in the Scouting program has  never been in question during these legal proceedings. The case focused on a discussion about what society and the BSA knew about child abuse approximately three decades ago. This is a long-standing societal issue that every  youth-serving organization must address. Based on the standard of care of that  time, the BSA believes it acted responsibly and that the evidence presented  during the trial does not justify the verdict."

While holding the Boy Scouts of America 60 percent negligent, the jury  said the Cascade Pacific Council - which oversees Scouting activities in the  region - was 15 percent negligent and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day  Saints 25 percent negligent.

The church has sponsored a number of Boy Scout troops, including the one  to which the plaintiff belonged. Steve English, a lawyer representing the  church, said Tuesday's verdict has no impact on the church, since it settled  the case out of court more than a year ago.

"The church absolutely condemns any  kind of child abuse," he said. "Because of the way the law is set up in Oregon,  we thought it made sense both to help the victim and also to get this behind the victim and us to settle this case."

– CNN's Brian Todd contributed to this story.

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