Abuse alleged – The plaintiff is the seventh Portland man to sue the Boy Scouts
Friday, February 22, 2008

PETER ZUCKERMAN

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."