PORTLAND — A Portland attorney who won a nearly $20 million judgment for a sex abuse victim against the Boy Scouts of America and forced the organization to release secrets on pedophiles contained in its so-called “perversion files” has died. Kelly Clark was 56.
Clark died Tuesday morning at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota from causes that appear to be cancer-related, said Paul Mones, Clark’s co-counsel in the case.
Clark was one of the most prominent American attorneys who fought for childhood victims of sexual abuse — bringing and winning cases against the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America.
Clark’s biggest victory came in 2010. Representing an Oregon man who was molested by a Scout leader in the 1980s, Clark filed a lawsuit alleging that the Boy Scouts of America knew of sex abuse within the organization and had done little to stop it.
Clark persuaded an Oregon judge to order the Boy Scouts of America to provide as evidence confidential files it had compiled on suspected abusers in the years 1965-85.
During the Portland trial, Clark referred to a number of the documents stacked in boxes in the courtroom.
The jury returned a verdict against the Boy Scouts, ordering the organization to pay $1.4 million in compensatory damages and $18.5 million in punitive damages.
Clark supported news outlets in a court case seeking the public release of the 14,500 pages of records used in the Boy Scout trial. They had been under protective order.
In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the documents are public records, rejecting the scouting organization’s efforts to keep them confidential. The court ordered victims’ names and some other information be redacted.
Clark made the documents available to news outlets in October 2012 and also posted them on his law firm’s website.
The documents drew attention to failures by the Boy Scouts of America to protect children from pedophiles within the organization.
Since the judgment, the Scouts have announced various steps to improve the protection of children, including improved training and a mandate to report suspected abuse.
Paul Mones said his friend and colleague took these kinds of cases because he “wanted to make people (victims) whole.”
“He was in it to empower survivors and to protect future generations of kids from abuse,” Mones said.
Mones said Clark’s wife died in October after a battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.