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Boy Scouts, Mormon church settle sex abuse lawsuit

The Boys Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a Portland man who said they didn’t do enough to stop a Scout troop leader from sexually abusing children.

The Idaho Statesman reports that a document filed Nov. 15 in U.S. District Court in Boise said both sides agreed to an undisclosed monetary settlement.

Oregon attorney Gilion Dumas represents the Portland man and said the settlement will be final once a judge approves a request from both sides to dismiss the suit.

The lawsuit alleges the leader of a Boy Scout troop in Nampa in southwestern Idaho sexually abused the plaintiff over three years in both Idaho and Oregon starting in 1967, and that the abuse left him with debilitating physical, emotional and mental injuries.

The lawsuit was initially filed in February 2008 in Malheur County Circuit Court in Vale, Ore., by a then 53-year-old man who sought $5 million in damages and contended the Scouts and church didn’t do enough to stop the troop leader from sexually abusing children. The lawsuit was moved U.S. District Court in Boise in 2009. Also named in the suit was the Boy Scouts Ore-Ida Council.

The suit said the troop was jointly operated by the Boy Scouts and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Nampa ward of the church “called” the troop leader to educate and minister to LDS families and their kids, the lawsuit said.

A federal judge in August 2010 ruled the lawsuit must focus on alleged sexual abuse suffered in Oregon because it was too late to sue over similar claims in Idaho. The judge found Idaho’s statute of limitations prevented the plaintiff from suing in that state. The judge also found that Idaho’s two-year statute of limitations prohibited the plaintiff from suing over the immediate damages he suffered from the alleged sexual abuse in Idaho, since he claimed the abuse happened between 1967 and 1970.

The judge also said the claims of emotional distress arising from alleged abuse in Idaho must also be dismissed because at least two years had passed since the plaintiff became aware of the link between the alleged abuse and emotional distress.

Oregon’s statute of limitation doesn’t start running until a person actually discovers he was injured by abuse, the judge said, so the claims involving acts in Oregon were allowed to move forward in federal court.

Boy Scouts Ore-Ida Council declined to comment about the lawsuit, instead referring to a statement released by the national organization concerning a recent release of files involving abuse of youngsters participating in Boy Scouts programs.

“There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children and, in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate or wrong,” the statement said. “Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect or, worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest apologies to victims and their families.”



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