2 men sue Mormons, Scouts over abuse

$6.5 million - The brothers claim a Scout and church leader molested them from 1983 to 1985

The Oregonian/January 23, 2007
By Peter Zuckerman

Two brothers filed a $6.5 million lawsuit Monday against the Mormon church and the Boy Scouts of America for alleged sexual abuse in the 1980s by a Portland church teacher and Scout leader.

The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, contends that Timur Van Dykes, 50, of Portland used positions of trust to molest the boys, who were not identified, in the years 1983 to 1985. During those years Dykes served as a leader of Boy Scout Troop 719, which was supervised by the Cherry Park Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dykes, also known as Vandykes, has been convicted of at least 23 sexual crimes against boys since 1985, when he was indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury and later convicted of sexual abuse and sexual penetration with a foreign object.

One of his earliest victims, also a Portland-area Boy Scout, led a troubled life after being molested and committed suicide in April 1995, the boy's mother told The Oregonian after her son's death.

Dykes served time in the Oregon State Penitentiary and now lives in Southwest Portland, where he is listed by the state as a sexual predator of infant males and boys 7 to 15.

Through his parole officer, Dykes declined to be interviewed.

Dykes' crimes have resulted in at least three lawsuits against the Scouts and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Boy Scout officials, who learned about the case Monday, said Dykes was registered for scouting from 1981 to 1984. They declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit.

Confidential Boy Scout files obtained by The Oregonian indicate that Dykes resigned in 1985 and was banned from the organization in 1987, two years after Dykes was first charged with molesting boys and at least three months after the Scouts concluded that he molested five boys from two families.

People generally aren't put on the Boy Scouts national blacklist until allegations against them have been substantiated, Boy Scout officials said, and authorities probably suspended Dykes immediately after he was investigated.

The suit filed Monday claimed that in the years 1983 to 1985 Dykes molested one of the boys once but committed multiple offenses against the other, including fondling and oral sex.

The lawsuit says that although the offenses were committed years ago, the victims did not realize until 2005 and 2006 that the abuse resulted in continuing damage and injuries.

Kelly Clark, a Portland-based attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the brothers, said that a quicker and more forthright response from the Boy Scouts and Mormon church could have helped the victims recover.

"The last 20 years of these men's psychological suffering did not have to happen," said Clark, who has handled more than 100 claims of child sexual abuse against the Catholic Church.

"Had the church but followed the law -- reported allegations of child abuse involving this very same individual to law enforcement in the 1980s as they were required to do -- we believe these men could have begun the healing process 20 years ago," Clark said.

In a statement, church attorney Steve English of Portland said: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns child abuse and does not tolerate such actions by anyone affiliated with our faith. . . . The Church adamantly denies allegations of responsibility in this case and will defend itself vigorously."

The church excommunicated Dykes more than 20 years ago, English said.

Sex abuse in the Scouts was "very prevalent" before 1988, when the Boy Scouts overhauled their child abuse prevention, said Don R. Cornell, Boy Scouts field services director.

Cornell said that Oregon's Cascade Pacific Council, which has 16,000 adult volunteers, bans five to 10 leaders a year for reasons that include child abuse and ignoring Boy Scout policies.

The abuse described in the lawsuit wouldn't happen today, he added. Two years ago, he said, the Boy Scouts of America began doing background checks on people who register to volunteer.

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