PORTLAND, Ore. – Six men who alleged they were sexually abused by an Oregon Boy Scouts leader in the 1980s have settled their lawsuits against the group's national organization for undisclosed amounts, the plaintiffs' attorney said Wednesday.
The settlements include the case of one man, Kerry Lewis, who was awarded nearly $20 million in damages from Boys Scouts of America in a trial that ended in April. It was believed to be the largest such award against the national organization.
A jury found the Texas-based group negligent for allowing a former assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes, to associate with Scouts after he admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys. The verdict came as the Boy Scouts, a congressionally chartered organization, mark their centennial.
In that trial, Lewis' attorneys used secret files kept by the Boy Scouts to try to demonstrate that the organization dismissed or ignored allegations of sex abuse by Scout leaders for nearly two decades. It was the first time the so-called "perversion files" had been used in a trial.
After the jury's verdict, the Boy Scouts of America still faced lawsuits from five other men who alleged Dykes molested them. Those trials were scheduled to begin this fall.
But an attorney for the five, Kelly Clark, announced his clients and the Scouts have agreed to a settlement.
"This is a great day for Kerry Lewis and for all these men," Clark said.
Kerry Lewis expressed relief to have the matter settled, saying in a written statement: "On behalf of all six of us, I can say that we are glad this is over."
The settlement was confirmed by the spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith.
"We extend our sympathies to the victims and are pleased to have reached a settlement which will both prevent these men from reliving their experiences during a trial and allow BSA to focus even more intently on the continued enhancement of our youth protection program," Smith said in an e-mail.
He said the organization and its leaders remain "deeply committed to providing the safest possible environment for our youth and already have made significant improvements to our youth protection program in the 25 years since the events in these cases occurred."
The Boy Scouts have settled sex abuse lawsuits out of court before, although the exact number is not known because not all are announced.
But an expert on the subject, Patrick Boyle, has said that from 1984 through 1992, the Scouts were sued at least 60 times for alleged sex abuse, with settlements and judgments totaling more than $16 million.