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Jury Awards $7.5 Million in Child Sex Abuse Case Against YMCA

Mar 12, 2024 | Firm News, Sexual Abuse

A Pierce County jury awarded $7.5 million to a former camper who claims he was sexually abused by two counselors at Camp Seymour in Gig Harbor, a summer youth camp owned and operated by the Young Men’s Christian Association of Pierce and Kitsap Counties. (“YMCA”).

The plaintiff, identified in court documents as “T.B.,” claims he was sexually abused multiple times from 1976 to 1979 by camp counselors Ken Baines and Randy Tollefson. T.B. was only eight years old, in the summer between 2nd and 3rd grades, when the abuse began.

At trial, the YMCA admitted that it was legally responsible for the abuse but challenged the nature and extent of T.B’s damages. According to PCVA attorney, Michael T. Pfau, “This is a powerful and consequential verdict. The jury heard the devastating impacts of the abuse on T.B.’s life, and their verdict reflects the severity of the harm he suffered. T.B. had to overcome a lot in his life and this result is affirmation that our legal system can provide justice and accountability for childhood sexual abuse survivors.”

The jury was in firm agreement that our client was preyed upon by the carelessness YMCA demonstrated in the 70s with minimal supervision of adult behavior toward children who were vulnerable to manipulation, coercion, and abuse.  

YMCA claimed liability prior to this trial and the jury only had to determine the punitive damages cost our client deserved from the horrific child sexual assault he experienced at primitive developmental ages. The jury quickly dismissed the defense’s suggestion for $500,000 as cost for damages and awarded the $7.5 million as they agreed the trauma he experienced continues to impact his life today as he is 57 years old. 

One of T.B.’s alleged abusers, Randy Tollefson, was eventually convicted of sex crimes against children in Pierce and King Counties. He was imprisoned for 16 years and later sent to the state’s center for sexually violent predators on McNeill Island. According to T.B.’s attorney, Steven T. Reich, Ken Baines and Randy Tollefson likely abused many other children that they met through the camp and other YMCA activities. “People who survive abuse need to know that they are not alone. Our experience representing survivors tells us that perpetrators usually abuse multiple victims, and they rely on the victims’ silence to get away with it,” said Reich. T.B. was represented by Michael T. Pfau and Steven T. Reich of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, and Peter B. Janci of Crew Janci, LLP, whose firms have represented hundreds of people who were abused as children in Washington and Oregon.

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