BOISE, Idaho – A federal judge said Tuesday he's inclined to dismiss many of the claims in a lawsuit against the Mormon church made by a man who says the church didn't do enough to stop a Boy Scout troop leader from sexually abusing children.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter gave a tentative ruling saying he would likely dismiss most of the claims in the man's lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But Carter also said he may allow a fraud claim to move forward.
The tentative ruling allows attorneys on all sides to more narrowly tailor their arguments to the points the judge believes are most pertinent to the case.
The plaintiff, identified in the lawsuit only as Tom Doe, and his attorney, Kelly Clark, filed the lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts Ore-Ida Council and the LDS Church in 2008. The case was moved from Malheur County Circuit Court in Vale, Ore., to Boise's U.S. District Court the following year.
In the lawsuit, Doe alleges that the leader of his Nampa, Idaho, Boy Scout troop sexually abused him for about three years in Oregon and Idaho starting in 1967, and that the abuse left him with debilitating physical, emotional and mental injuries. Doe says the troop was jointly operated by the Boy Scouts and the LDS church, and the Nampa ward of the church "called" the troop leader to educate and minister to LDS families and their children.
Doe says both the Boy Scouts and the church are guilty of fraud because they knew they had a widespread problem with Scout leaders and volunteers sexually abusing the children in their care, and they failed to warn families. Instead, they portraying scouting as a healthy, safe and morally upstanding activity for kids, he claims.
Carter told attorneys that he was likely to let laws from both Oregon and Idaho govern the case, rather than applying one state's laws to all the claims.
Carter said he was also inclined to throw out Doe's contention that the church is liable for the Scout leader's intentional infliction of emotional distress, for negligence and for any sexual abuse that occurred in Idaho because Idaho's statute of limitations for a lawsuit has expired.
But Carter also said that Doe's claim of fraud may be able to move forward, and he gave the man a chance to amend his lawsuit to more clearly detail just how he thinks the fraud occurred.