AUSTIN, Texas -- A jury in Travis County, Texas, deliberated for almost 10 hours before returning a verdict Friday in favor of the regional council of the Boy Scouts of America, ordering the organization to pay only 5 percent in damages to three men who were sexually abused as children by one of its troop leaders.
The panel of eight women and four men found the Capitol Area Council was negligent for not enforcing its youth protection policies but that it did not fail to respond to any report of inappropriate touching, nor was it liable for not removing former Scout volunteer Martin E. Turner from his position.
The jury ruled the majority of the blame rested on Turner, 70, and his wife, Elizabeth Turner, who also were initially listed as defendants in the case but were dismissed as parties during the trial after an agreement was reached between attorneys on both sides of the case.
Outside the courtroom, the majority of jurors declined comment. Mike Norris and Brenda Reese said the decision was complicated and they preferred not to explain their reasoning.
But, Reese said, "As a jury, we would like to say that we hope the Boy Scouts of America will take positive steps to enforce child protection in all of its troops, in all of its cities, everywhere across the United States."
Randy Howry, the lead attorney representing the defendant, said the verdict was favorable to the Capitol Area Council, which would likely have to pay a total of up to $75,000 in damages to all three plaintiffs. But he said the case was tough for both sides.
"We respect the family, and we wish them the best as they go on with their lives, as they move forward," Howry said.
Charles Mead, a spokesman for the council, said the verdict was no cause for celebration. "No jury is going to change the fact that three former Scouts were abused," he said.
The Boy Scouts has been working with law enforcement to strengthen its youth protection policies and procedures, Mead said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs declined comment.