A jury on Friday ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a man who was sexually abused by a former assistant scoutmaster in what is believed to be the largest such award against the national organisation.
Lawyers for Kerry Lewis had asked the jury to award at least $25 million to punish the Boy Scouts for what the jury had already agreed in the first phase of the trial was reckless and outrageous conduct.
They also noted the Boy Scouts had never apologised to Mr. Lewis, who said on Friday at a news conference that the verdict shows that “big corporations can't be above the law”.
Mr. Lewis added that an apology “would mean something to me, but I'm not expecting it”.
The jury decided on April 13 that the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing former assistant scoutmaster Timur Dykes to associate with scouts, including Mr. Lewis, after Dykes admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.
The jury awarded Mr. Lewis $1.4 million in compensatory damages with that verdict and agreed the Boy Scouts were liable for punitive damages to be determined in the second phase of the trial that ended Thursday.
Scouts officials declined to comment on details of the case because other cases are pending, but issued a statement saying it maintains a “rigorous” system to screen scout leaders.
“The Boy Scouts of America has always stood against child abuse of any kind,” it said.
The verdict came as the Boy Scouts, a congressionally chartered organisation, mark their centennial.
The case was the first of six filed against the Boy Scouts in the same court in Oregon, with at least one other separate case pending. If mediation fails to settle the next cases, they also could go to trial.
Keywords: sexual abuse