The Boy Scouts of America have declared bankruptcy in an attempt to create a compensation fund for the alleged victims of sexual abuse.
The Boy Scouts of America, a longstanding and formative American institution for the past 110 years, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits were levied against the Scouts, this Chapter 11 filing has allowed the organisation to reorganise their finances whilst shielding their 261 local councils from declaring bankruptcy.
This action by the BSA will also suspend all civil litigation cases against them. This opportunity, the national chairman of the BSA, Jim Turley, stated in an open letter, would be used to set up a fund to compensate the victims.
“The national organisation of the Boy Scouts of America has 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.”
After a change in legislation in New York, California, Arizona, and New Jersey that allowed victims of historic abuse to file claims easier, the BSA has been inundated with lawsuits. In April of last year, court testimony revealed that the Boy Scouts of America believed more than 7,800 former leaders were involved in this sexual abuse and that, in the time period between 1944 to 2016, the BSA had identified over 12,000 alleged victims.
“On behalf of myself and the entire Scouting community: I am sorry. I am devastated that there were times in the past when we failed the very children we were supposed to protect,” stated Turley.
Recently the number of Scouts has dropped below 2 million, a decline the BSA has attempted to counter by admitting girls into the organisation for the first time in their history. These diminishing numbers was only exacerbated when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cut sponsorship with the BSA and relocated its approximately 400,000 enrolled Scouts into their own programs.
Yet, in spite of this financial and membership crisis for the Scouts, the BSA intends to continue running.
“Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come. Local councils are not filing for bankruptcy because they are legally separate and distinct organizations,” said spokesman Evan Roberts.
Despite this distinction, the BSA’s local council’s may not escape the Chapter 11 filing unscathed. It’s likely that to raise money for their compensation fund, the local councils would have to sell off property holdings, such as campgrounds and hiking trails.
Another consequence of the bankruptcy is that the process may force alleged victims to come forward before they’re ready in order to meet the deadline. Those who aren’t ready will miss their opportunity to file claims, leading Turley to urge potential claimants to file before it’s too late.
“I encourage you, and all victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this Trust. We will provide clear notices about how to do so. I want you to know that we believe you, we believe in compensating you, and we have programs in place to pay for counseling for you and your family by a provider of your choice.”
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