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Abuse lawsuit alleges widespread problems with Mormons, Boy Scouts

PORTLAND, Ore. — A $25 million sex abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America filed Wednesday alleges that child abuse has been widespread since the 1960s and little was done to prevent it.

The new lawsuit also claims the church and the Scouts "knew that assignments were being used by pedophiles to victimize children...."

Kelly Clark, the attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of six men now in their 40s, called it an "infestation of child abuse, stretching across the country, involving hundreds of predators and thousands of children."

Clark also said the LDS Church and the Boy Scouts "failed miserably to take responsible steps to clean up their organizations."

Stephen English, a Portland attorney for the LDS Church, said only one individual was accused of abuse in the complaint — the same man as a previous lawsuit.

"The LDS Church has always adamantly condemned child abuse and we will thoroughly investigate these allegations," English said.

A Scouts spokeswoman in Portland said officials had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

Clark noted there is a strong relationship between Mormons and the Scouts, with the church sponsoring 28 percent of all Scout units nationally in 2006.

Clark has represented dozens of alleged abuse victims in successful lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church, and he said the problems alleged in the complaint against the LDS Church and the Scouts "at least rival ones we've seen in the Catholic Church."

The new lawsuit adds four men to a previous complaint by two brothers who claim they were molested by a former LDS Church teacher and Scout leader. The men allege they were abused in the 1980s by Timur Dykes, a former Boy Scouts leader and a Mormon Sunday school teacher.

Dykes has several child sex abuse convictions and is listed by the state as a predatory sex offender.

Efforts to reach Dykes were not successful. County probation officials said they would leave him a message seeking comment.

The Web site for the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Parole & Probation notes that "Dykes gains access to victims through positions of trust (Boy Scouts, church membership, befriending single mothers); targets vulnerable boys and families; has used intimidation and threats to maintain victim compliance."

The LDS Church has been ordered to turn over extensive financial records in another sex abuse lawsuit filed by Clark, and the Oregon Supreme Court rejected a church appeal.

Clark said settlement talks are continuing in that case.