A leading expert on child sexual abuse says a Portland court’s verdict holding the Boy Scouts liable for the Oregon child sexual abuse of one of their scouts in the 1980s has the potential to set loose a flood of litigation, similar to what the Catholic Church has experienced in recent years, according to a recent report in The Oregonian.
That analysis comes in the wake of a $1.4 million Oregon jury verdict against the Boy Scouts of America and their local affiliate, the Cascade Pacific Council. The victim, now 38, was molested by a scoutmaster in 1983 and 1984, according to a report in USA Today. In an interview with The Oregonian the victim said he had come forward after so many years because he only recently realized how seriously the mental trauma of the molestation had affected his later life. Changes to Oregon’s sexual abuse laws enacted last year have extended the period of time after an incident of abuse in which an alleged victim can bring suit.
A statement posted on the Boy Scouts of America’s website described the organization as both “gravely disappointed” in the verdict and “saddened by what happened to the plaintiff,” The Oregonian reported. The Scouts now face a second phase of the trial in which punitive damages will be considered. The victim is seeking $25 million.
At a moment when child abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church have been making headlines for weeks the timing of the verdict was, from the Scouts’ perspective, particularly unfortunate. Like many church cases, the Oregon child sexual abuse case turned on the question of whether the organization had sought to cover up cases of abuse in an effort to protect its reputation.
If you believe you were molested as a child, or have reason to believe your child has been the victim of a sexual predator, contacting a Portland child abuse lawyer is the key first step on the long road to justice. This most traumatic of crimes can be as difficult to prosecute as it is to confront. Let an experienced Oregon child injury attorney become your ally as you work to expose and punish those who have violated the trust of children and parents alike.