Part of lawsuit against church, Boy Scouts tossed

Associated Press/August 18, 2010

A federal judge said a lawsuit against the Mormon church and the Boy Scouts of America must focus on alleged sexual abuse suffered in Oregon because it's too late to sue over similar claims in Idaho.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter made the ruling last week, saying Idaho's statute of limitations prevented the plaintiff from suing in that state.

The lawsuit alleges the leader of a Boy Scout troop in Nampa sexually abused the plaintiff over three years in both states starting in 1967, and the abuse left him with debilitating physical, emotional and mental injuries.

The suit said the troop was jointly operated by the Boy Scouts and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Nampa ward of the church "called" the troop leader to educate and minister to LDS families and their kids, the lawsuit states.

The legal action claims the Boy Scouts and the church are liable for fraud because they knew they had a widespread problem with Boy Scout leaders and volunteers sexually abusing children but failed to warn families.

Attorneys representing the church didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Lawyers for the Boy Scouts declined to comment on the ruling.

Attorney Kelly Clark, who represents the plaintiff, filed the lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts Ore-Ida Council and the LDS Church two years ago in Oregon's Malheur County Circuit Court. The lawsuit was moved U.S. District Court in Boise in 2009.

Carter's latest ruling came after the LDS church asked that the case be dismissed. The judge found that Idaho's two-year statute of limitations prohibits the plaintiff from suing over the immediate damages he suffered from the alleged sexual abuse in Idaho, since he claimed the abuse happened between 1967 and 1970.

Carter also said the claims of emotional distress arising from alleged abuse in Idaho must also be dismissed because at least two years had passed since the plaintiff became aware of the link between the alleged abuse and emotional distress.

Oregon's statute of limitation doesn't start running until a person actually discovers he was injured by abuse, Carter said, so the claims involving acts in Oregon can move forward in federal court.

"In our view, Judge Carter's ruling leaves us at least a shot at justice," said Clark, the attorney representing the plaintiff.

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