Attorney Kelly Clark has secured tens of millions of dollars for his clients in monetary settlements and judgments in child abuse cases, and–even more importantly in terms of the search for justice and closure–has secured significant non-monetary concessions for his clients as well: letters of apology, public accountability, meetings and seminars concerning prevention of child abuse and agreements by the institutions of trust—Catholic Church, Mormon Church, Boy Scouts schools, athletic leagues, etc—in which the abuse occurred to make radical changes in their child abuse policies. These institutions are safer than they were even a decade or two ago, in part thanks to the courage of the childhood abuse survivors who have stood up to tell their stories, and in part to the persistence and doggedness of lawyers like Kelly Clark.
Kelly Clark’s commitment to child abuse survivors began when he was a member of the Oregon Legislature in 1989-1993. Serving on the House Judiciary Committee, he was deeply moved by testimony from child abuse survivors and later became one of the chief sponsors of the extended civil statute of limitations for adults abused as children, now codified at ORS 12.117. This statute was one of the first in any state to recognize the reality that child abuse survivors often cannot acknowledge, or understand their abuse, or their damage, until well into adulthood. Since then, dozens of other states have adopted similar legislation.
While serving in the Legislature, Kelly was a chief sponsor of a bill that would ban on possession of child pornography. Working with law enforcement, and also with civil liberties groups concerned about potential infringements on free speech, Kelly Clark helped push through one of the first laws in the nation to impose criminal penalties on the actual possession, and not just the production, of child pornography.
Just a few years later, Kelly Clark was again fighting the child pornographers, filing a “friend of the court” brief before the Oregon Supreme Court in a case challenging the constitutionality of the child pornography statute described above. A unanimous Supreme Court upheld the statute.