For nearly twenty years, Kelly Clark was a leading advocate for victims of child abuse. Mr. Clark started this work while in the Oregon legislature, co-authoring Oregon’s child abuse statute of limitations and the ban on child pornography.
After returning to the private practice, attorney Kelly Clark represented hundreds of children and adults abused as children by trusted adults, including Catholic priests, Boy Scout leaders, ministers, coaches, teachers and police officers.
Kelly Clark’s 1999 win against the Archdiocese of Portland in the Oregon Supreme Court in the case of Fearing v. Bucher changed the law in Oregon and gained national attention for its landmark theory of liability for “institutions of trust” whose employees abuse children.
His 2008 win in the Supreme Court against a local police agency operating a Boy Scout Explorer post was significant for its elimination of special immunities in the law for governmental child abusers and their employers.
In 2010, Kelly Clark was lead counsel in a Portland trial against the Boy Scouts of America that featured, for the first time ever, the so-called “Perversion Files” –secret files kept by Boy Scouts of America on pedophiles active in the organization.
Several other attorneys, including Peter Janci, served on the plaintiff’s trial team in the Kerry Lewis trial. The result of that trial was a jury verdict of nearly $20 million against the Scouts, including $18.5 million in punitive damages—as well as an eventual Oregon Supreme Court ruling in 2012 requiring that the Perversion Files be publicly released as evidence of the history of abuse in Scouting.
In September of 2012, Kelly Clark argued to the Oregon Supreme Court that the Oregon laws giving special protection to public school teachers in cases of child abuse should be struck down as unconstitutional. Recognized by his peers for his expertise in this area, he wrote and spoke widely on child abuse topics for both professional audiences.
Kelly was a trial and appellate lawyer representing individuals, families and businesses against large or powerful institutions, public and private. He was recognized for his courtroom skills, for his knowledge of public, constitutional and child abuse law, and for his tenacious and creative litigation strategies.
A former two-term Oregon legislator, Kelly practiced before or against some 85 federal, state and local government agencies. He brought cases in state and federal court on civil rights, voting rights, education rights—including pioneering wins for charter schools—as well as cases on religious liberty, free speech and property rights. He was legal counsel to numerous political campaigns, including legislative, congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
Mr. Clark was recognized for his community and charitable endeavors. He served as an adjunct professor at George Fox University, and, in 2012, received the Master’s Degree in theology from Australia’s Melbourne College of Divinity. Often asked to lecture and teach effective public speaking, Mr. Clark was frequently in demand as a speaker and writer on the topics of child abuse, law, public policy, faith, and recovery from addiction.
Mr. Clark passed away unexpectedly in 2013. Steve Crew and Peter Janci worked by Kelly Clark’s side on the sex abuse litigation team of O’Donnell Clark & Crew LLP, the firm that Kelly helped to found. Today, they strive to honor Kelly Clark’s memory and to carry on his legacy as they continue to represent survivors of sexual abuse and crime victims against institutions of trust.