PORTLAND, Ore. -- An Oregon jury's decision to award a man $18.5 million in punitive damages in his case against the Boy Scouts of America will likely be the first of many financial hits the Scouts will take as it prepares to defend itself against a series of sex abuse lawsuits.
The jury on Friday ordered the Scouts to make the payment to Kerry Lewis, the victim of sex abuse by a former assistant Scoutmaster in Portland in the early 1980s.
The case was the first of six filed against the Boy Scouts in the same court in Oregon, with at least one other separate case pending. If mediation fails to settle the other cases, they also could go to trial.
Lawyers for Lewis had asked the jury to award at least $25 million to punish the Boy Scouts for what the jury had already agreed in the first phase of the trial was reckless and outrageous conduct.
They also noted the Boy Scouts had never apologized to Lewis, who said Friday at a news conference that the verdict shows that "big corporations can't be above the law."
Lewis added that an apology "would mean something to me, but I'm not expecting it."
The jury decided April 13 that the Boy Scouts were negligent for allowing former assistant Scoutmaster Timur Dykes to associate with Scouts, including Lewis, after Dykes admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.
The jury awarded Lewis $1.4 million in compensatory damages with that verdict and agreed the Boy Scouts were liable for punitive damages to be determined in the second phase of the trial that ended Thursday.
Scouts officials declined to comment on details of the case because other cases are pending, but have said they plan to appeal Friday's decision.
Sixty percent of any punitive damages paid in the case will go to the Oregon crime victims fund under state law.