Abuse Suit Against Boy Scouts Tied To C.O Killing
Updated On: Jul 27 2011 08:14:19 AM CDT
It was a Central Oregon shooting that shocked the nation 25 years ago. A Sisters teen gunned down the scoutmaster who abused him.
Now, the painful legacy that scoutmaster left behind is the focus of a new lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. The suit seeks more than $5 million for one of the admitted abusers' many other victims.
The lawyers, who came to Bend for a news conference Wednesday to announce the lawsuit, described the abuser ? then-Scoutmaster Ed Dyer ? as "one of Oregon's most notorious pedophiles," who would eventually admit to abusing at least 15 boys over 28 years, including while serving as a Scoutmaster in Eugene and Central Oregon between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.
Their client, an unidentified, 58-year-old Portland man wants compensation for the pain he's endured since he was just a little boy.
"We don't know how his life would have been different -- there's no way to establish that, but his life would have been different," said the victim's attorney, Steve Crew.
Although the Boy Scouts of America and local and federal government agencies received notice regarding Dyer?s abuse of boys, it was ultimately one of Dyer?s victims (not the one in the lawsuit) who years later took the law into his own hands and stopped Dyer from abusing more boys.
That victim, a then-17-year-old boy named Louis Conner, shot and killed Dyer outside Dyer's Redmond home on Jan. 22, 1986. Conner later reportedly stated that he ?felt like shooting was the only way to make sure it didn?t happen again.?
Wednesday?s lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, identifies the plaintiff as "F.D.," a fictitious name. It names the Boy Scouts of America and the Oregon Trail Council as defendants, alleging sexual abuse of a child and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks a jury trial and sets an initial damage claim of $5 million in non-economic damages and $250,000 in economic damages, the exact amounts to be determined at trial.
"It's not a perfect remedy, but it's a remedy," said Crew.
"They knew fairly early on that the Boy Scouts of America was a magnet for pedophiles," he added.
The Boy Scouts of America, based in Irving, Texas, issued a statement Wednesday responding to the lawsuit -- not attempting any defense of past actions, only explaining steps they have taken to prevent further crimes by those involved in the organization.
"The abuse of anyone, and particularly children, is abhorrent and intolerable ? especially to the Boy Scouts of America, for whom the protection and safety of youth is of paramount importance," the BSA statement said.
"BSA has been on the forefront of developing youth protection procedures throughout its history and continues to advance its efforts. Most recently, BSA upgraded the stringency of its training standards and clarified national standards for reporting inappropriate conduct,"
"Any individual suspected of abuse is immediately banned from Scouting," the statement concluded.
The lawsuit contends that Dyer used his leadership position in a Boy Scout troop sponsored by the Adams School PTA in Eugene to win the trust of the plaintiff (then a teenage boy) and his mother.
After conditioning the boy to trust him, the lawsuit says Dyer used his position as a scoutmaster and the Scouting program (including camping trips) to isolate and exploit the victim, sexually abusing the boy for several years between approximately 1964 and 1968.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who was not named, is being represented by attorneys Steve Crew, Kelly Clark and Peter Janci of the Portland law firm O?Donnell Clark & Crew, which calls itself "one of the nation?s leading law firms handling abuse cases against the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic Church and other youth-serving organizations."
?Today?s case highlights the long lasting nature of the affects of child sexual abuse by a trusted adult,? Crew said in announcing the lawsuit. ?Here, the abuser blazed a trail of destruction through the lives of the many trusting boys he abused. Now those boys are men, like the plaintiff in today?s lawsuit, who are left to pick up the pieces decades after the abuser has passed on.?
Prior to his death, Ed Dyer admitted to abusing more than 15 boys over the course of 28 years. Most of Dyer?s victims were apparently involved in Dyer?s Scout troops or other formal youth outreach programs.
?In this case, the fact is that the system failed both Dyer and his victims. If those who knew about Dyer?s sexual abuse of boys had stepped up and taken immediate, appropriate action, some boys would not have been abused,? said Kelly Clark, an attorney for the plaintiff in the new lawsuit.
Clark and his firm, O?Donnell Clark & Crew, represented the plaintiff in the Kerry Lewis vs. Boy Scouts of America sexual abuse case that went to trial in Portland in the Spring of 2010.
The jury in that case returned a nearly $20 million verdict for the plaintiff, including $18.5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were largely based on the introduction of nearly 20,000 pages of the BSA?s secret files -- which the lawyers call the ?perversion files? -- which date back to the 1920s and document the sexual abuse of children by Scout leaders across the country.
The lawyers said the lawsuit filed Wednesday, along with the others they filed this year in places such as Alaska, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, and New Mexico, will bring a second-look at the ?perversion files? hidden by the BSA for decades.
They noted that the files that were previously expected to become part of the public record at the close of the Kerry Lewis trial are still unavailable to the public and the subject of more litigation.
The lawyers said the Oregon Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion soon as to whether the documents should be available for the public ? a decision that could be instrumental in the present suit.
In a timeline largely based on a 1969 New Yorker article by Calvin Trillin, the lawyers said Dyer moved from Eugene to Sisters for a new Forest Service position in 1969, serving as a scoutmaster and also overseeing programs with the Youth Conservation Corps and Young Adult Conservation Corps.
They said Dyer organized and led week-long backpacking trips into the wilderness, and would instruct newer boys to undress while he photographed them, also abusing the boys in the woods.
He moved to the outskirts of Redmond in the early '70s and served as scoutmaster for a troop sponsored by the Redmond LDS church. After an allegation of abuse, trooper leaders allegedly learned of his history of abusing children, Dyer promised to turn himself in to authorities and seek counseling, but never did so, and trooper leaders never called police.
At a time when Dyer was abusing Conner, in 1984, an adult with ties to the Redmond Scout troop contacted police about the sexual misconduct that had prompted his discipline and removal from Scouting.
Oregon State Police investigated and eventually arrested Dyer, who claimed his encounters with Conner were consensual. In January 1986, a judge sentenced Dyer for his abuse of Conner and another boy, a sentence that included just 20 days in jail and a restriction against seeing boys under 18.
On Jan. 22, 1986, before Dyer began to serve his sentence, Conner arrived at Dyer's home with the shotgun Dyer had given him and shot Dyer, who died at the scene. Three months later, a judge ruled the shooting was manslaughter, and Conner was sent to a residential facility for youth that emphasized intensive counseling.
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