Boys Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy Amidst Sexual Assault Allegations

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The Boy Scouts prides itself on its teachings of independence and moral strength. (photo courtesy of Google Commons)

The Boy Scouts of America has officially filed for bankruptcy, a decision directly resulting from the approximately 300 pending lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as Scouts.

The organization is using the Chapter 11 process, a process typically referred to as a ‘reorganization’ bankruptcy. Chapter 11 usually involves the debtor making a reorganization plan to keep business operations alive while still paying off creditors.

The Boys Scouts had been exploring possible bankruptcy since December 2018, when the group hired a law firm for a potential Chapter 11 filing. 

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

“I am outraged that individuals took advantage of our programs to commit these heinous acts,” said the BSA National Chair Jim Turley in an open letter from the organization.

“I am devastated that there were times in the past when we failed the very children we were supposed to protect,” stated Turley.

The letter further encourages abuse victims to come forward and file claims so that they can receive compensation from the BSA. 

In the midst of other high-profile sexual assault scandals in major organizations, spanning from the Catholic Church to USA Gymnastics, several states have changed their laws to suspend statute of limitations on specific cases, bringing in a new wave of lawsuits from victims whose cases were previously prohibited.

“For years, organizations like the Boy Scouts counted on these laws protecting them,” said Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones, who has represented many men suing the Boy Scouts. 

“Now those laws are not there, and the Boy Scouts have fallen under their own weight of these abuse allegations and the potential cases that will be filed,” stated Mones.

Senior Mikey King has been a member of local BSA Troop 241 for eight years. When asked about perceived societal notions regarding Boy Scouts, he was quick to note how positive Boy Scouts has been for him.

“I think Boy Scouts only has positive effects on young boys. It not only acts as an outlet for some children where they can make friends and be social, but it also teaches valuable life skills such as working as a team, leadership skills and first aid,” stated King.

King hopes the organization’s bankruptcy filing will not impact enrollment in Troop 241. “It has definitely had a positive impact on my character and how I perceive problems around me. I understand that the societal view of scouting is not as positive as it should be,” said King.

The organization might hope that it’s bankruptcy filing will protect the assets of its local councils, similar to how Catholic districts were able to protect their properties and parishes from claims.

Turley was clear on this point in his statement. “Local councils, which provide administrative support to Scouting units in their communities, have not filed for bankruptcy. They are legally separate, distinct and financially independent from the national organization.”