Boy Scouts of America again made national news when it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February of 2020. This is the latest chapter in the 110-year-old organization’s attempt to survive a barrage of new lawsuits, which were made possible by several states changing laws on statute of limitations for sexual abuse.
Many Catholic dioceses in the United States had previously taken this route in an attempt to protect some assets from liquidation to pay damages to sexual assault victims. It remains to be seen whether this will work for BSA – many dioceses sold vast amounts of the property anyway to pay restitution. In the case of BSA, the bankruptcy allows for restructuring and puts the cases on hold; however, it will still likely need to raise an estimated $1 billion or more for a victims’ fund that will pay compensation to 1,000 to 5,000 victims seeking compensation. Overall, the total is estimated to be 12,000 boys molested by 7,800 scoutmasters and adult helpers since the 1920s.
The cover-up is over
To the organization’s credit, it has recently understood that there is no avoiding the lawsuit by suppressing complaints (as it had for decades). In a statement, it added: “The BSA encourages victims to come forward to file a claim as the bankruptcy process moves forward.”
The organization currently has listed assets valued at $1 billion to $10 billion, with a liability of $500 million to $1 billion, which makes the filing in Delaware one of the largest and most complex bankruptcies in U.S. history.
“We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” said Roger Mosby, the Boy Scouts’ president and CEO. “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.”
Victims get justice
Regardless of the amount of the settlement, BSA now reverses course. Many victims will carry the scars to the end of their days, but now they are A) allowed to come forward (many were silenced with threats as children), and B) there will be compensation for the pain and suffering that they have endured. Critics have valid complaints, but everyone agrees that it is better late than never for BSA.