Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy over sex abuse lawsuits

Elias Hubbard
February 18, 2020

The organization says it will use the Chapter 11 process to create a trust to provide compensation to victims.

In the Twin Cities, the Northern Star Council, which oversees scouting for about 54,000 youth in Minnesota and Wisconsin, said it doesn't receive money from the national organization and is "separately incorporated, financially sound and will continue to keep Scouting strong for youth in our area", spokesman Kent York said in an e-mail Monday.

BSA has been facing a steady decline in recent years, with the number of youths taking part in Scouting dropping below 2 million, down from more than 4 million in peak years of the 1970s, prompting the organization to allow girls to become members. The bankruptcy declaration will bring pending lawsuits to a screeching halt and allow other victims to come forward. The organization has tried to counter the decline by admitting girls, but its membership rolls took a big hit January 1 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - for decades a major sponsor of Boy Scout units - cut ties and withdrew more than 400,000 scouts in favor of programs of its own.

For many years, the Boy Scouts had insurance that would cover it against sexual abuse claims.

BSA was clear on this point in its statement on Tuesday: "Local councils, which provide programming, financial, facility and administrative support to Scouting units in their communities, have not filed for bankruptcy".

All civil lawsuits against it are now on hold as a result of the bankruptcy application as the group is struggling with declining membership as well as the abuse claims.

The organization confirmed it has maintained a volunteer screening database since the 1920s and "at no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers, and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement". About 90 per cent of the claims stem from abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago, the Scouts said.

Amid the crush of lawsuits, the Scouts recently mortgaged the major properties owned by the national leadership, including the headquarters in Irving, Texas, and the 140,000-acre Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, to help secure a line of credit.

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts have kept confidential files since the 1920s listing staff and volunteers implicated in sexual abuse, for the avowed objective of keeping predators away from youth.

Last April, exposed court testimony showed the organization believed more than 7,800 of its former leaders were involved in sexually abusing more than 12,000 children over the course of 72 years.

Regarding the bankruptcy, he said: "It is a shame because at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a lovely organisation". While those instances were limited, they mean we didn't do enough to protect the children in our care - to protect you.

As Breitbart News reported, the Boy Scouts of America first mooted filing for bankruptcy back in 2018.

"The Catholic bankruptcies are limited in geographic scope".

Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney whose firm represents 300 alleged victims across the country, said the bankruptcy claims process will be decidedly different for those suffering due to the BSA's alleged inaction.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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