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Abuse lawsuit targets area Boys and Girls Clubs

Two girls who say they were sexually assaulted by a volunteer at two Washington County Boys and Girls Clubs within a 14-month period have filed lawsuits, each seeking $2.75 million from the non-profit organization.

The lawsuits claim the Portland-metro branch of the Boys and Girls Club showed negligence by failing to remove the volunteer after receiving reports of sexual abuse.

According to Stephen Crew, an attorney representing the two girls, the volunteer — who was a juvenile at the time — was discovered abusing the first victim, a 5-year-old girl at a Boys and Girls Club in Forest Grove, in 2010. He was removed from the program, but within a year he was permitted to re-register with the Boys and Girls Club in Hillsboro, where Crew said he sexually assaulted the second victim, a 10-year-old girl.

The volunteer — who is not named in the suit — was prosecuted in the Hillsboro case and pleaded guilty to the charges.

Forest Grove Police Capt. Mike Herb said police investigated the allegations of sex abuse at the Forest Grove Boys and Girls Club and that detectives referred the case to the Washington County Juvenile Department for prosecution.

“The failure of a youth organization, in this day and age, to take basic precautions to protect the children they serve is totally unacceptable — you can’t give second chances when you’re dealing with child sexual abuse,” Crew said.

Hollis McMilan, another attorney representing the girls, now aged seven and 11, said both were recovering from the abuse. Both have received intensive psychological counseling.

Melissa Froman, Director of Resource Development for the Portland-area Boys and Girls Club, said in a statement that the club would cooperate in the court process and also expressed sympathy for the girls.

"First and foremost, we want to express our concern for the alleged victims, as the safety and well-being of the young people we serve has always been, and remains, our top priority," Froman wrote.

"We want to assure parents of our ongoing commitment to the safety of their children and invite them to visit our operations at any time."