An Oregon judge on Tuesday more than doubled the punitive damages the Boy Scouts of America could face if the organization loses a lawsuit filed by a man who was molested by a Scout leader in the early 1980s.
Judge John Wittmayer agreed to the plaintiff’s request to increase possible punitive damages to $25 million from $10 million, and the total damages sought in the lawsuit to $29 million.
Plaintiff lawyers Kelly Clark and Paul Mones sought the increase after reading through confidential Boy Scout files documenting sex abuse allegations involving adult volunteers from 1965-1984.
The Boy Scouts only made the files available two weeks before trial began, so Clark and Mones filed their motion once they’d had a chance to assess the depth and scope of the more than 1,000 documents, dubbed the “perversion files” by the Boy Scouts.
Wittmayer said he wasn’t happy about approving the increase after the trial was under way, but said the Boy Scouts had been too slow in providing the files.
The trial has drawn national attention because it is one of the first to use the secret files.
The lawsuit was brought by a 37-year-old Klamath Falls, Oregon, man who was abused by an assistant Scoutmaster, Timur Dykes, in 1984. In a video deposition played for jurors, Dykes has acknowledged abusing the plaintiff. Dykes was convicted three times between 1983 and 1994 of sexually abusing other boys, mostly Scouts.
The plaintiff’s lawyers contend the confidential files show a pattern among Boy Scouts leadership of ignoring suspected abuse or allowing pedophiles to return to scouting activities.
Attorneys for the Boy Scouts say the secret documents protected children by helping national scouting leaders weed out sex offenders.
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