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Friday, February 4, 2011

New Abuse Suit Leveled at Boy Scouts of America

By Kilian Melloy -
Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark 

Attorney Kelly Clark has gone to court against the Boy Scouts of America and the Roman Catholic Church on behalf clients claiming to have been sexually abused; in one case, he won $19 million for a client in Oregon.

Now Clark has taken on the Boy Scouts once more, in a case involving a man who says that he was abused as a boy in Alaska, the Associated Press reported on Feb. 3.

The AP cited an article in the Anchorage Daily News in which Clark described how his latest client found out about Clark’s earlier victories and recognized that his own story was similar to that of the client who, Clark represented in the case resulting in a $19 million finding against the BSA.

The new suit, filed Feb. 3, alleges that Clark’s client was assaulted by a man named Dean Wendall You. The purported victim was 10 or 11 at the time. You was no named as a defendant, the article said.

Clark’s website details the attorney’s past successes, telling readers, "Kelly Clark brought the first two cases in the modern wave of childhood sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America. It took seven years of hard litigation beginning in 1994--including a successful argument before the Oregon Supreme Court--before the cases were settled."

The site also says that Clark is a legal innovator who came up with a theory of culpability for " ’institutions of trust’ such as churches and youth organizations," and claims, "It was this victory that helped swing open the door for the wave of litigation against the Catholic Church in 2001, which many observers believe has made the Church, and other institutions of trust, much safer for children."

The Boy Scouts maintained a cache of documents regarding sexual abuse of children called "the perversion files," according to earlier AP reports. But the organization did not take action on those documented instances of abuse, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The Boy Scouts of America has also come in for criticism from GLBT equality groups for refusing to allow open gays and lesbians to assume leadership roles--even if they are the parents of Scouts. In one instance in 2009, a lesbian couple in Vermont whose son had been a cub scout for years were told they may not volunteer for the troupe because the organization, they were told, didn’t want them, "pushing your lifestyle on the boys."

Last fall, a gay Texas father who had helped out with his 9-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop by running a yearly fundraiser learned that he was being stripped of the right to wear the Scouts shirt or to serve in any leadership capacity, following a complaint about his being gay.

"What message does that send to my son?" asked Jon Langbert. "It says I’m a second-class citizen." Langbert added that he was incensed at the fact that the group is allowed to use space at his son’s public school building. "My tax dollars are paying for their discrimination," Langbert told the media. "And the next gay dad who wants to come along can’t."

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.


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