by Ralph Bartholdt of the Lewiston Tribune
An attorney representing 16 plaintiffs who allege they were sexually abused by Boy Scouts of America scoutmasters is looking for witnesses and victims in a lawsuit that is in its early stages.
Their allegations include those against two men from the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.
One of the attorneys bringing the suit, Andrew Chasan of Boise, was in Lewiston this week in an effort to find additional witnesses in the case that he expects could last at least two more years.
“The case is in its beginning stages,” Chasan said.
The discovery phase of the suit, which names the Boy Scouts and the administrators of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as defendants, has not yet started. In discovery, attorneys on both sides gather evidence, request documentation from opposing sides and interview witnesses.
“Discovery has to be completed before a judge will consider setting the case for trial,” Chasan said.
The complaint accuses the defendants of constructive fraud, Chasan said, because leaders continued to promote the Boys Scouts as a safe place for youths to learn wholesome values and integral life lessons, despite knowledge of allegations among its ranks.
All 16 plaintiffs were residents of Idaho – Lewiston, Nampa, Twin Falls, Caldwell and Boise – when they were allegedly abused while under the tutelage of the Boys Scouts, according to the complaint. Many of the represented Scout troops were sponsored by the LDS Church.
“Defendants knew that, historically and increasingly, a significant number of Scout leaders had abused Scouts … that not all Scout leaders were trustworthy, morally upright role models and mentors,” according to the lawsuit. “Defendants fraudulently misrepresented, failed to disclose and, or, actively concealed the dangers and prevalence of child molesters in Scouting.”
The two local Scout leaders named in the suit are Lawrence Libey and Timothy Kellis. Libey was a Scout leader who died in 1999 and is alleged to have abused John Doe IV, according to the suit. Timothy Kellis was a leader who worked at Camp Grizzly, a Boy Scout camp in Latah County.
Kellis was convicted in 2008 of sex abuse charges in Latah County.
“(Kellis) is a known pedophile with two convictions of lewd conduct with a minor,” Chasan said.
The two scoutmasters are the only local leaders named in the case that started in Oregon and stemmed from the 2012 release of the Boy Scouts’ so-called “Perversion Files.” The files name more than 1,200 scoutmasters and volunteers and include extensive records of alleged abuse.
The Scouts knowledge of alleged sexual predators among its ranks predated Libey or Kellis, Chasan said.
“They had known since the early 1900s that they had a problem with pedophiles … and never disclosed it,” he said.
When the case was filed in 2012, four John Does were named as accusers. The number of plaintiffs has since grown to 16.
“We’re in the information-gathering stage, and appreciate anyone who would call and help us,” Chasan said. “We’re looking for witnesses.”