The Boy Scouts of America has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. This process will include setting up a fund for survivors of child sexual abuse by scout leaders and others in the organization. That fund could top $1 billion.
In order to find the money for the settlement fund, the Boy Scouts will probably be forced to sell some of its property holdings, such as trails and campgrounds, around the United States.
According to the Associated Press, however, only the national organization is making itself ready to pay settlements to the thousands of people who were abused. The organization considers its 261 local councils to be separate legal entities, and they are not part of the bankruptcy filing.
People who were abused by local scout leaders or other Boy Scouts personnel may need to file separate lawsuits with the local council involved. Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate the local councils’ assets may be worth substantially more than the national organization’s.
“We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” said the head of Boy Scouts of America. “While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process, with the proposed trust structure, will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.”
The Boy Scouts’ own records say that sexual abuse in the organization has been going on since the 1920s. Those records estimate that more than 1,200 boys were molested since that time by 7,800 abusers. The organization now guesses that between 1,000 and 5,000 victims will apply for compensation through the bankruptcy fund.
The bankruptcy court has not yet established a timeline or procedures for making a claim.
If you were sexually abused by a Boy Scout leader or other Boy Scouts of America personnel, you may wish to file a lawsuit against the national organization and/or one of the local councils. As you may know, New York recently changed its law to allow for older claims, but there are still deadlines that apply. You should discuss your situation with an attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.