Man sues Oregon Youth Authority over alleged abuse

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Portland-area man who says he was sexually assaulted by notorious pedophile Frank Milligan in the late 1990s has filed a $5.5 million lawsuit against the Oregon Youth Authority, claiming officials "turned a blind eye" to sex abuse at a youth jail.

Milligan worked a group life coordinator at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn when the plaintiff arrived as a 15-year-old in December 1998, and the alleged abuse started within two weeks, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Marion County.

The plaintiff is now 30 years old and identified in court papers by the initials J.M.

Oregon Youth Authority spokesman C.J. Drake said the agency has yet to see the lawsuit as of Friday and cannot comment. Two former Oregon Youth Authority officials are named in the suit. One, agency director Richard Hill, resigned in 2000. The other, MacLaren superintendent Gary Lawhead, retired in 2005.

Milligan, 45, pleaded guilty to attempted murder, sexual abuse and other charges after he lured a 10-year-old boy into his car at a Polk County park in 2000. He raped the boy, slashed his throat and left him for dead. At the time of the attack, Milligan was out on bail after being charged with the sexual assault of an 11-year-old boy in Seaside.

According to the lawsuit, Milligan ordered J.M. to perform a sex act after taking him to a laundry room and telling him to pick a T-shirt off the floor. A week later, Milligan sexually abused J.M. for a second time, after approaching the boy in the shower and ordering him to the laundry room.

The lawsuit contends Oregon Youth Authority officials knew abuse was a problem and should have enacted policies and procedures to stop it. The lawsuit notes the case of Michael Lee Boyles, a former juvenile probation officer who was sentenced to 80 years in prison in 2005 after he was convicted of sexually abusing five boys he supervised.

"This is a bigger issue than just Milligan," said Dennis Steinman, the plaintiff's attorney. "There have been too many boys hurt over the years."

Steinman said his client - a married, stay-at-home father - has never paid much attention to the news and was unaware of Milligan's high-profile arrest until 2012. The abuse scandal at Penn State University triggered J.M's memories and led him to search Milligan's name on the Internet, Steinman said.

"He cannot afford therapy right now, but he really needs it," Steinman said.

Milligan has been behind bars since 2000 and is not scheduled to be released until 2036.

Before MacLaren, he worked from 1994 to 1997 as a psychiatric aide on the children's ward of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

In a 2004 letter to The Oregonian newspaper, which was writing an article about sex abuse on the ward, Milligan said that job was perfect for a pedophile: "I worked side-by-side with psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers and not one of them suspected that a man who, since the age of 13, had gruesome fantasies about kidnapping, raping, mutilating young boys, was standing right next to them."