was an LDS church member; accused of sexual abuse

Mark Gum Case Summary

The case of Mark Gum arose in 1986 in California.

Gum was not criminally charged – he couldn’t be, because of a statute of limitations – but he was named in a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Mormon church. The plaintiff got a confidential settlement from the BSA and the LDS church.

Gum served in the US Navy on the USS Farragut.

from the Ventura County Star on April 14, 2011:

” Former Oxnard man alleges sex abuse, sues Boy Scouts, Mormon church

A former Oxnard man has filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, alleging he was sexually abused more than two decades ago by a Scout leader who was active in the church.

Filed in Ventura County Superior Court, the suit alleges the organizations knew or should have known the alleged abuser posed a risk. It also claims they failed to prevent abuse.

Building largely on a Portland, Ore., sexual abuse case in which the Boy Scouts of America was found negligent last year, the suit says the Oxnard troop was predominantly Mormon and the alleged abuser got involved in the Boy Scouts as a direct result of his church involvement.

Tim Thomton, Scout executive for the Ventura County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said he could not comment on specific ongoing litigation.

“We are saddened by any incident of abuse and we extend sympathy to all such victims,” Thomton said in general. “Youth protection has always been of paramount importance to the Boy Scouts of America and we have continued to enhance our youth protection programs to make sure Scouting is safe for all its members.”

A lawyer representing the Mormon church did not return repeated calls seeking comment this week.

The former Scout leader, Mark Gum, was named in the suit as the alleged abuser but not as a defendant. To name a defendant in a childhood sexual abuse civil case, plaintiffs older than 26 must go through a time-consuming process of submitting corroborating facts to the court, said Tim Hale, the lawyer for the plaintiff, Tayln Lang, now 37. The suit was filed in October and amended in March with the names of the defendants — the Scouts and the church.

While he told his story to another former Boy Scout in the years following the alleged abuse, Lang didn’t file a report with Oxnard police until this month, Hale said. The statute of limitations, however, appeared to preclude any criminal case, police said, and Gum has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

Even without a formal report, Hale said, Scout and church officials still should have noticed red flags of potential abuse and taken action.

The suit alleges Gum sexually abused the plaintiff regularly from the time Lang was about 13, in about 1986, until he was 16.

Gum, then a leader in the local Mormon church, also took a leadership role in Lang’s Oxnard Scout troop, although he did not have any children of his own involved in it, the suit alleges. Gum had Lang spend nights at his home even though he had no children the boy’s age, and showered naked with some boys at a Scout camp, something no other adults did, the lawsuit alleges. At least one former Scout recalled the shower activity as inappropriate, according to the suit.

“If a Scout is able to recognize the impropriety of this kind of conduct, certainly adults in the organization … should have taken action on it,” Hale said. “If they had, it would have stopped the abuse of our client from taking place.”

The suit claims the first sexual assault occurred at Gum’s former home in Oxnard. Gum later convinced Lang to move with him to Butte County in Northern California by “exploiting the emotional dependency he had created … as well as the plaintiff’s unhappy home life,” according to the suit. The boy lived with Gum with the consent of his parents, whose trust Gum had gained, Hale said.

While the boy was living with Gum, members of the Mormon church visited and accepted the “bizarre living arrangement” without taking any action, the suit claims.

The plaintiff ran away from Gum’s home when he was 16 after Gum allegedly pinned him to the ground and pointed a gun at him, the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the Boy Scouts of America and its Ventura County Council, and the Mormon church for negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

Hale said Lang did not report the abuse until recently partly because “he still lives in fear” of the alleged abuser. He added it’s unclear where Gum lives now. Lang, who lives out of state, decided to come forward as he examined the impact of the abuse on his life in the wake of a job loss, the lawyer said.

In the Portland case, in which Hale was not involved, lawyers for theplaintiff argued the Boy Scouts of America was negligent because it allowed a former Scout leader to continue associating with the plaintiff’s troop after he confessed to a Mormon bishop that he had molested Scouts, according to media reports. ”

from the Santa Barbara Independent on December 6, 2012:

“MOLESTED SCOUT: Tayln Lang, now 38, couldn’t understand why he kept losing job after job, year after year. Finally, determined to get to the root of the problem, “I took a long, hard look at my life and realized that it was due to a loss of self-worth,” the result of being molested by a Boy Scout leader, Lang told me Monday.
Barney Brantingham

The sexual abuse he suffered from the age of 13 to 16, and its psychological effects, were inflicted by “a controlling, domineering, dominating” man with a wife and four children, Lang told me. Lang has just won a confidential settlement from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Mormon church, which sponsored Troop 275 in Oxnard.

The settlement not only brought a measure of closure and healing, Lang said, “but the most important thing is to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any other young man and is brought to light.” According to his lawsuit, filed in 2010, he was molested by Mark Gum, first in Oxnard and later in Butte County. Although Gum is named in the suit, his whereabouts are unknown, according to Santa Barbara attorney Tim Hale, who filed the suit.

Gum, according to the suit, took advantage of the fact that Lang was vulnerable because of his unhappy home life in a dysfunctional family and created “an overwhelming emotional dependency that rendered plaintiff desperate for the perpetrator’s attention, approval, and affection.” Gum “made plaintiff his sex toy,” according to the suit. The Scouts and the Mormon church (also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS) knew or should have known that Gum presented a risk, the suit said.

When Lang was about 16 and living with Gum’s family, “unable to take the abuse any longer, plaintiff told the perpetrator it had to stop, causing the perpetrator to fly into a rage and pin the much smaller boy to the ground,” according to the suit. “When he finally let plaintiff up, the boy ran outside, only to see the perpetrator point a gun at him.” Lang said he fled, returning for his belongings with his football friends.

Gum “was a member of the LDS Church who became an agent and volunteer of the Boy Scouts as a direct result of his status in the hierarchy of the LDS Church,” which actively promotes scouting, according to the suit. “The Boy Scouts and the LDS Church thus were and are legally responsible for his criminal acts while he was acting as an agent of the Boy Scouts and/or the LDS Church.”

Criminal charges could not be brought against Gum because of the statute of limitations, which Lang believes should be revised: In many cases victims do not come forward for years due to fear, shame, and other factors. Lang has been married but is now divorced, living in Montana. He said, “My life now is great ​— ​happy, healthy, and more productive.”

Asked to comment, Deron Smith, BSA national public relations director, replied: “The Boy Scouts of America believes that one instance of abuse is far too many. We regret there have been times when Scouts were abused, and for that we are very sorry and extend our deepest sympathies to victims. In the nearly 30 years since these events took place, the BSA has continuously enhanced its multi-tiered policies and procedures, which now include background checks, comprehensive training programs, and safety policies ​— ​like requiring all members to report even suspicion of abuse directly to local law enforcement.” (In the Lang case, BSA apparently did not report suspected abuse to authorities, according to attorney Hale.)

SCOUT APPEAL: Meanwhile, a decision is awaited on the Boy Scouts of America appeal of a Santa Barbara court decision ordering Scouts to turn over so-called “perversion files,” regarding suspected sexual activity, back to 1991. The case involves a Santa Barbara family suing the Scouts because a volunteer molested their 13-year-old son at a 2007 Christmas tree sale. The volunteer pleaded no contest to charges and later served a prison term. In that case, the top local Scout official attempted to talk the parent out of reporting it to authorities, according to the suit.”

  1. Former Oxnard man alleges sex abuse, sues Boy Scouts, Mormon church
    view source details | 14 Apr 2011 | Ventura County Star
  2. Untying Knots of the Past: Former Boy Scout Wins Settlement
    view source details | 6 Dec 2012 | Santa Barbara Independent
Sources excerpts

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