PORTLAND, Ore. — The president of the Boy Scouts council for the Portland metro area has testified he believes the parents of some Scouts were negligent and even criminal for allowing sleepovers that led to sex abuse.
Eugene Grant told a jury in a $29 million sex abuse lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and its Cascade Pacific Council that parents should not have allowed boys to stay overnight with a single man at his apartment.
The man, Timur Dykes, has admitted molesting the victim who filed the lawsuit and has been convicted of other sex abuse dating back to the early 1980s, when Dykes was an assistant Scoutmaster.
During cross-examination by Kelly Clark, an attorney for the victim, Grant said Thursday it was not Boy Scouts policy to allow sleepovers, especially when they were unsupervised.
"His parents should have known better," Grant said, referring to the parents of the victim. "I think it was criminal."
But when Clark pressed Grant about whether he knew the Boy Scouts had any formal policy against sleepovers in the early 1980s, Grant replied, "At the time, no."
Grant later said he believed that, at the very least, the parents were negligent.
"I just find it almost incomprehensible to think their children were going to be safe in that type of environment," Grant said.
Clark had called Dykes a "pied piper" earlier in the trial for filling his apartment in the early 80s with things such as exotic pets, an aquarium and games to attract boys from a Scout troop organized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Grant, who is an attorney and church member, also said he did not know that lawyers for the council had denied there had been any abuse until shortly before the trial began.
But Grant said he believed the council was not responsible for the abuse, even though he admitted that a Scoutmaster and a Mormon bishop who both knew Dykes made "bad decisions" if they had any role in allowing the sleepovers.
Grant was Scoutmaster for another troop in the early 1980s and said he knew the victim when he was a Scout. But he denied knowing Dykes or ever receiving any reports of abuse at the time.
In a separate line of questioning, Grant estimated that 30 percent to 50 percent of the Boy Scout troops across the nation in the mid-1980s were chartered by the Mormon Church, which has already settled its portion of the lawsuit.
Grant compared it to a franchise arrangement, saying that allowed Mormon officials to manage the Scout troops.
"They're not staffed by Boy Scouts officials or employees," Grant said.
Clark asked Grant whether that meant the Boy Scouts knew that disciplinary action taken against any adult volunteers suspected of abuse generally would be kept secret because the church considered such discipline a private matter.
"They would know that, sometimes, results would be kept confidential," Grant said.
Clark began the trial last month by showing the jury six boxes packed with about 20,000 pages of files the Boy Scouts of America kept on about 1,000 Scout volunteers nationally who abused boys from 1965 to mid-1984.
Clark told the jury they would be the first to see the secret files, also called "perversion files" by the Scouts.
The trial began March 17 and was expected to last about a month.