MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. — The Seventh-day Adventist Church is under fire, facing a major lawsuit involving sexual abuse allegations.
Two men who grew up in Veneta filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court Tuesday claiming they were sexually abused by a youth leader and the church looked the other way.
The two alleged victims go by the names of D.M. and F.D.
They claim they were sexually abused by a youth leader, Leslie “Les” Bovee.
Bovee was a youth leader for the Pathfinder Club, a co-ed outdoors program much like Boy scouts.
From 1975 to 1979 they claim Bovee sexually abused them when the alleged victims were 10 and 11, forcibly raping one of the alleged victims.
Bovee was convicted for the sodomy of F.D.
Before being appointed as a youth leader, Bovee was convicted in 1970 for sexually abusing boys in the Roseburg area.
The plaintiffs’ attorney says the church knew about his prior convictions, ignored them and then didn’t believe the allegations when alleged victims came forward.
“Everybody is looking back and thinking oh we wished we would’ve seen the signs. People knew everything they needed to know about Les Bovee when he walked in the door. And all they had to do was exclude him and warn people that they shouldn’t let their children be around him,” said Peter Janci, O’Donnell Clark & Crew LLP.
Janci says the men are suing the World Headquarters of Seventh-day Adventist Church because they want to make a systematic change within the church.
One of the alleged victims is heavily involved in his Seventh-day Adventist Church school board and says he wants the culture of the church to change.
Bovee currently lives in Myrtle Creek and is not registered as a sex offender.
We did reach out to both the Junction City and Veneta Seventh-day Adventist churches, but they didn’t return our calls.