On Tuesday this week the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was forced to file for bankruptcy as it faces legal challenges over thousands of allegations of sexual abuse. It lodged papers in Delaware Court as it attempts to negotiate a compensation plan for abuse victims.
The BSA which has been in existence for 110 years was founded in 1910 and it has kept confidential files since the 1920s listing staff and volunteers accused of sexual abuse, for the purposes of keeping predators away from children.
In what is being described as one of the most challenging bankruptcies ever seen, scores of lawyers are seeking settlements on behalf of thousands of men who say they were molested by scoutmasters or other leaders as children.
By filing for bankruptcy the BSA will be able to put all the ongoing lawsuits on hold but it could ultimately mean that the BSA has to sell its property, including campsites and hiking trails to create a compensation fund that could be in excess of US$1 billion (£770 million).
BSA president and CEO Roger Mosby said in a statement Tuesday that “The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,. 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.”
Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents numerous clients suing the BSA, said that “There are a lot of very angry, resentful men out there who will not allow the Boy Scouts to get away without saying what all their assets are. They want no stone unturned.”
In 2012, more than 14,000 pages of documents related to alleged abuses by 1,247 scout leaders was released as part of a lawsuit filed in Oregon against the BSA. In April, an attorney who represented victims released court documents with testimony from Dr. Janet Warren, who said she was hired by the BSA to evaluate its sex abuse cases. Warren testified that she worked with the scout’s ineligible volunteer files and determined there were “7,819 perpetrators” and identified “12,254 victims” over the decades.
Sharon Moohan, partner, BLM