A Jackson County judge has awarded $120 million in damages to the victim of Joseph T. Mackey, a former Scoutmaster and physician who inflicted years of sexual abuse while the victim was a boy under his care and supervision.
Mackey, 45, of Lee’s Summit, pleaded guilty to sexual assault last month and is in jail awaiting sentencing.
Circuit Judge Jack Grate ruled in the victim’s civil lawsuit Thursday that Mackey’s abuse was “outrageous by reason of evil motive and/or was committed with reckless indifference to the rights of others.”
Grate awarded $20 million in compensatory damages for the psychological harm Mackey caused and $100 million in punitive damages to “punish defendant and to deter defendant and others from sexually abusing minors.”
Randall Rhodes, the attorney for the victim, said he thought it was the biggest civil judgment in Missouri this year. But he also said it was “a conservative judgment given the facts of this case, which are beyond horrific.”
“Not only the Scouting element, but the fact that Dr. Mackey used his position as a physician and health care provider to not just do horrific things to our client but also to other kids,” Rhodes said. “I would hope it makes a difference. I would hope it resonates. But only time will tell.”
The Star left message seeking comment Friday from Mackey’s attorney, Christopher Carpenter.
Kenn Miller, Scout executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts of America’s Heart of America Council, released a statement saying the organization requires thorough screening of prospective Scout leaders and prompt mandatory reporting of any suspicions of abuse, and offers counseling to any current or former Scouts who are victims.
“The behavior included in these allegations is abhorrent and runs counter to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands,” Miller said of the Mackey case. “Upon learning of reports against this individual in 2011, we took immediate action to remove him and prohibit him from any future participation in our programs.”
Grate’s judgment outstrips a $100 million ruling earlier this year against Jackson County Boy Scout leader Alan Scott Bradshaw, who allegedly sexually abused the victim in that case 2,000 times. Rhodes also represented that victim.
The suit against Mackey alleged that he repeatedly abused the victim sexually, including rape and sodomy, at Mackey’s house, at Mackey’s medical practice in Blue Springs, and before, during and after Boy Scout events, sometimes at facilities owned and operated by the Scouts.
According to Grate’s ruling, Mackey denied the allegations but offered no specific defense, instead choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Rhodes said Mackey’s victim, who is now 32, “amicably resolved claims” against the Scouts that were previously part of the suit. But he said more litigation is coming to determine whether his client can recover damages from Mackey’s medical liability insurance policy and insurance policies carried by the Scouts.
Rhodes said he has no other clients planning to sue Mackey.
“But it wouldn’t surprise me if there weren’t more suits in the future,” Rhodes said.
When Mackey was charged in 2015, investigators said they had spoken to others who said he had abused them.
For more than 10 years, Mackey volunteered with the Kansas City area’s Heart of America Council of Boy Scouts, serving as a leader of Troop 42 in Jackson County, as the council’s medical director and also a member of the council’s executive board.
Scouting officials severed ties with Mackey in 2011 after receiving a report of alleged misconduct, according to the council.
He lost his medical license in 2013.
Mackey also volunteered as team doctor for Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs South High School. But Mackey did not travel with teams and voluntarily withdrew from those activities in 2011, a district spokeswoman said when he was charged.