Kelly Clark dies at 56; made Boy Scouts divulge secrets on pedophiles

Kelly Clark, an Oregon attorney who won a nearly $20-million judgment for a sex abuse victim against the Boy Scouts of America and forced the organization to release secrets on pedophiles contained in its so-called perversion files, has died. He was 56.

A resident of Portland, Ore., Clark died Dec. 17 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said Paul Mones, Clark’s friend and co-counsel in the case. Doctors were in the process of diagnosing Clark’s condition when he died.

Clark was one of the most prominent American attorneys who fought for childhood victims of sexual abuse — bringing and winning cases against the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America.


His biggest victory came in 2010. Representing an Oregon man who was molested by a Scout leader in the 1980s, Clark filed a lawsuit alleging that the Boy Scouts of America knew of sex abuse within the organization and had done little to stop it.

Clark persuaded an Oregon judge to order the Boy Scouts of America to provide as evidence confidential files it had compiled on abuse suspects in the years 1965-85.

The jury returned a verdict against the Boy Scouts, ordering the organization to pay $1.4 million in compensatory damages and $18.5 million in punitive damages.

Clark also supported news outlets in a court case seeking the public release of the 14,500 pages of records used in the Boy Scouts trial. They had been under protective order.

In 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the documents are public records, rejecting the Scouting organization’s efforts to keep them confidential. The court ordered that victims’ names and some other information be redacted.

Clark made the documents available to news outlets in October 2012 and also posted them on his law firm’s website. The Times included those documents in its investigative report on sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.

The documents drew attention to failures by the Boy Scouts of America to protect children from pedophiles in the organization.

Since the judgment, the Scouts have announced various steps to improve the protection of children, including improved training and a mandate to report suspected abuse.

Clark was born Aug. 9, 1957, in Little Rock, Ark. He grew up there and in Colorado Springs, Colo. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Lewis & Clark College in Portland in 1980 and a law degree from the college in 1983.

From 1989 to 1993, Clark was a Republican representative in the Oregon state legislature.

Clark’s wife, Sabine Moyer Clark, died in October of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

He is survived by a daughter, a stepdaughter, a sister and a brother.