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Judge awards $120 million in Boy Scout molestation case

Scott Lauck//October 9, 2017

Judge awards $120 million in Boy Scout molestation case

Scott Lauck//October 9, 2017

A Jackson County judge approved a $120 million award to a man abused as a child by his scoutmaster.

In an Oct. 5 judgment following a bench trial, Judge Jack Grate awarded $20 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to the victim, identified in the suit as J.F.H. Grate found that the defendant, Joseph T. Mackey, a former scout leader and physician, had provided the victim with intoxicants and abused him physically, sexually, mentally and emotionally when the now 32-year-old victim was a minor.

Mackey separately has pleaded guilty to statutory sodomy charges stemming from the same incidents with the victim. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 3.

An attorney for Mackey, Christopher J. Carpenter of the Law Offices of Vincent F. O’Flaherty in Kansas City, didn’t return a call seeking comment. According to Grate’s judgment, Mackey didn’t testify at trial and has agreed not to appeal the award.

Despite the defendant’s incarceration, an attorney for the plaintiff, Randall Rhodes of Rouse Frets Gentile Rhodes, said the judgment could be collectable. The suit initially named the Boy Scouts of America and its Kansas City-area Heart of America Council, alleging that some of the abuse took place during scouting events and that the organizations had failed to supervise Mackey. Those defendants were dismissed from the suit in August, but Rhodes said there will be further litigation to try to collect the damages from the organizations’ liability insurers, as well as from Mackey’s medical malpractice insurer.

The judgment is the second massive award Rhodes has obtained this year in a case alleging abuse by a scouting official. A Jackson County judge in February entered a $100 million verdict against defendant Scott Bradshaw. In both cases, Rhodes said the damages were “pretty conservative given the facts of the case.”

“Both are real judgments, and whether or not any money is ever collected, it’s about doing the right thing for the right reasons and getting justice for a couple of well-deserving clients,” he said in an interview. “If a dollar is never collected from the verdict that we obtained his week and even just one potential Dr. Mackey doesn’t molest a kid, then it’s worth every ounce of time that was put into the case.”

$120 million judgment

Personal injury

Venue: Jackson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 1616-CV00705/Oct. 5, 2017

Judge: Jack Grate

Caption: J.F.H. v. Joseph T. Mackey

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Randall Rhodes, Jeff Rowe and Rachel Boden, Rouse Frets Gentile Rhodes, Leawood, Kansas

Defendant’s Attorney: Christopher J. Carpenter, The Law Offices of Vincent F. O’Flaherty, Kansas City

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