22 Feb 2008

Mormons, Boy Scouts targets of new suit

The Oregonian - February 22, 2008


The Oregonian Staff

The Boy Scouts of America and the Mormon church face another lawsuit for alleged child sexual abuse.

The $5.1 million case filed Thursday by a Portland man alleges that Larren Arnold, a Boy Scout and Mormon youth leader, abused him as a Scout in Idaho and Oregon between 1967 and 1970.

Arnold, now 72, was convicted in Bannock County, Idaho, in 1985 of felony child abuse in an unrelated case.

A May 31, 1990, letter from then-Ore-Ida Council executive Kim Hansen, obtained by The Oregonian, says:

"Arnold's ecclesiastical leader . . . had firsthand knowledge of child sexual molestations of one or more Scouts. No charges were filed as the mother was talked out of it at the time by church leaders."

The Scouts blacklisted Arnold in 1991, six years after his conviction, Scout records show.

The plaintiff, now 53, is the seventh Portland man suing the Boy Scouts for alleged sexual abuse.

One case, brought by two brothers last year, also targets the Mormon church. Combined, all the suits seek $33 million.

The latest case, like one other, alleges the Boy Scouts and the Mormon church knew by the 1960s they had a widespread pedophile problem. The Scouts nationally removed leaders at a rate of one every three days for child molestation, the latest suit says.

"These institutions of trust -- the (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and the Boy Scouts -- which held such emotional, spiritual, and moral authority over children, badly failed at protecting them," said Portland attorney Kelly Clark, who is handling the suit along with others.

The Mormon church and the Boy Scouts say they take child abuse seriously, do everything possible to protect children and will investigate the alleged abuse from 40 years ago. Boy Scout Ore-Ida Council executive David Keeper said the Scouts need an opportunity to review the case before responding to its specifics.

Church spokesman J. Craig Rowe said in an e-mail that it "seems difficult for anyone to claim that some unidentified church leader somehow kept the matter (Arnold's 1985 conviction) from becoming public, or otherwise allowed Arnold to prey on children."

The case was filed in Malheur County, where some abuse is alleged to have occurred.

Arnold, reached in Arizona, said he lives in Pocatello, Idaho.

He said he abused more than one boy while a Scout leader, stayed in Scouting for 12 to 15 years and that the church and Scouts never questioned his background or tried to stop him.

Arnold said he turned himself in in 1984 for abuse in the Bannock County case. He said he has had a clean record since, went through years of treatment and doesn't recall molesting anyone in Oregon.

"I'm not saying I didn't do it, but I don't remember," he said. "I'm sorry for what happened."



  1. Thank you for this story. My soon-to-be exhusband is a "valued scout leader" and is the scoutmaster for the Omaha Nebraska troop for the national jamboree. He is also on the child abuse registry and has been investigated numerous times this year for child abuse. Charges have been sent to the county attorney for prosecution. The BSA knows about this and is doing nothing. In fact, they allow him to teach the child abuse prevention program.

  2. Delaware man sues Scouts, Mormons in sex abuse case

    By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times December 12, 2012

    A Delaware man on Wednesday sued the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church, charging that he was sexually abused by a scoutmaster, the latest suit to be filed in connection with the scandal that has rocked the youth movement.

    Melvin Novak, 28, announced his suit, filed in Philadelphia, at a news conference. In his complaint, Novak alleges that pedophiles were involved in scouting for decades, as demonstrated when the Boy Scouts of America in October released confidential documents -- known as the “perversion files” -- that list 1,200 alleged abusers who were weeded out of the organization between 1959 and 1985.

    In recent months, the Los Angeles Times published an investigation of those files and thousands of case summaries from 1940 to 2005. The files and summaries were obtained from Seattle attorney Timothy Kosnoff, who has sued the Scouts on behalf of dozens of abuse victims.

    According to Novak, the Scouts had appointed Vance Hein to be a scoutmaster of one of its Chester County troops. Hein, who had moved to Chester County from California, was a trusted family friend and leader at the Mormon church that Novak attended as a boy, Novak said.

    While a scoutmaster, Hein sexually assaulted Novak, then 14. Novak said he was abused at Hein's home, on a trip to Canada, at parks, campsites and other locations.

    Novak claimed that Hein told him he was introducing him into a “special brotherhood” and used gifts and other incentives to persuade Novak to keep it a secret. Novak says he told his parents about the abuse in 1999.

    Hein was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to the offenses against Novak in 1999. He was sentenced to 15 years of probation and was recently convicted of violating that probation by having child pornography on his computer and is serving 15 to 30 years in prison.

    “This guy is still worshiped by people in that church today,” Novak said at the news conference. “Their kids' lives are changed while mine was screwed up. Nobody had any idea. My parents had no idea. In their eyes, he was helping me in scouting, computers, college, everything. To them he was a positive influence. They had no idea it was a hoax just to abuse me.”
    Novak said he is suing the Mormon Church because it failed to conduct a background check before Hein was hired. Now living in Newark, Del., Novak said he has left the Mormons, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “My childhood just fell apart,” he said. “I guess you could classify me as a quitter. I never finished after that what I started. I never finished college. I finished high school, but only through a home schooling program after not graduating with my class.”

    Novak said he abused substances for about five years as well.

    The Boy Scouts have acknowledged that there were incidents of abuse.

    In an October statement, the Boy Scouts' national president, Wayne Perry, stressed the organization’s enhanced child-protection efforts in recent years, including beefed-up background checks and training of leaders and mandatory reporting of all suspected abuse.

    "There have been instances where people misused their positions in Scouting to abuse children, and in certain cases, our response to these incidents and our efforts to protect youth were plainly insufficient, inappropriate, or wrong," Perry stated. "Where those involved in Scouting failed to protect, or worse, inflicted harm on children, we extend our deepest and sincere apologies to victims and their families."