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Oregon jury orders Boy Scouts to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages for abuse

[JURIST] An Oregon jury Friday found the Boy Scouts of America [organization website] negligent for failing to take actions that would have prevented further sexual abuse by an assistant scoutmaster during the 1980s and ordered the organization to pay $18.5 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Kerry Lewis. Multnomah County Circuit Court [official website] jurors concluded that awarding punitive damages was appropriate considering that the Boy Scouts acted in a recklessly indifferent manner in failing to protect child scouts from suspected pedophiles, particularly when the alleged molester had already confessed to molesting 17 children. Jurors were allowed access to highly restricted files known as "perversion files" that the Boy Scouts keep on suspected pedophiles after a judge ordered [AP report] their release in March. The Lewis case is only the second instance in which a court has ordered the release of the files. The Boy Scouts say they will appeal [OPB report] the verdict.

Last week, the Oregon jury awarded $1.4 million [WSJ report] to Lewis in damages for pain and suffering, finding that Boy Scouts of America National Council was 60 percent responsible for the abuse and allocating 15 percent of the liability to the local Cascade Pacific Council [organization website] and 25 percent to the local sponsoring congregation Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Mormon congregation reached a settlement with Lewis prior to the verdict. Most sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America are settled out of court.

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