Boy Scouts Declare Bankruptcy

Ian Watson, Staff Writer

Amid a wave of sex-abuse lawsuits, Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection. The filing halts the hundreds of lawsuits currently pending. The bankruptcy, according to Michael Pfau, whose firm was representing more than 300 victims, would be “bigger in scale than any other sex abuse bankruptcy.”

The filing is from the National Council which has extensive records on the details of abuse over the organization’s 110-year history. An expert hired by the BSA reviewed secret records dating over 72 years and said the documents contained the names of 7,819 perpetrators and over 12,254 victims in that time. It’s facing 275 abuse lawsuits and 1,400 more potential claims in state in federal courts currently. Additionally, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, and California have relaxed statute of limitations laws to allow victims to file claims.

The Boy Scout of America said in a statement that they’ve, “Initiated a voluntary financial restructuring to ensure we can equitably compensate all victims of past abuse in our programs, through a proposed Victim’s Compensation Trust.” The national chairman also said the organization wanted to equitably compensate victims through a trust instead of in individual lawsuits. Local councils are not affected by the finding, as they are legally distinct chapters.

The filing comes at an especially difficult time for the Boy Scouts of America, with membership falling below 2 million from its peak of double that in the 1970’s. Also, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints withdrew more than 400,000 members after disagreements over gay scouts and leaders.

The bankruptcy’s exact effects have led to much speculation, but some fear that the filing could prevent survivors from naming their abuser in court. Tim Kosnoff who tried thousands of child abuse cases said, “They’re going into bankruptcy to hide … a Mount Everest in dirty secrets.”