File – In this Feb. 4, 2013 file photo, shows a close up detail of a Boy Scout uniform worn during a news conference in front of the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas. Attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America have reached a settlement with a former San Antonio Scout who says he was abused by his adult leader. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
The Boy Scouts of America used to be one of the nation’s most respected cultural organizations for children.
After decades of shocking sexual abuse claims and cases alongside controversial decisions to allow gay leaders and girls, the once lauded organization has officially filed for bankruptcy.
The filing will stall all sexual abuse cases currently pending against BSA. Fox News reports that the scale of the bankruptcy could be historic.
Sexual abuse settlements had reportedly strained the Boy Scouts’ finances, with states passing laws last year so victims from long-ago abuse can sue for damages.
Mike Pfau, an attorney whose firm was representing 300 victims in New York as of last April, said the bankruptcy would be “bigger in scale than any other sex abuse bankruptcy.”
“You’re talking about thousands of perpetrators,” Seattle-based lawyer Michael Pfau, who has represented more than 300 Boy Scout victims in 34 states, told the New York Daily News. “You’re talking about tens of thousands of victims. This will be the largest bankruptcy the country has ever seen, and likely one of the largest corporate bankruptcies.”
In the meantime, the BSA says they are setting up a Victim’s Compensation Trust as they navigate the bankruptcy process.
“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,” said Roger Mosby, president and chief executive officer of the BSA.
“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,” he added.
BSA National Chair Jim Turley also released an open letter to the victims of sexual abuse during their time with the Scouts.
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.
We have also partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, to expand their services so that you are able to anonymously access vital support from trained advocates when and how you need it. You can access these services at www.1in6.org/BSA.
The abuse you suffered weighs on us all every day. But your courage also motivates us to do more for the children we are entrusted to protect. We will do better – for you, for kids today, and for kids tomorrow.
In recent years the BSA has been in hot water for making fundamental changes to their scouting practices. From allowing openly gay and women leaders to opening up troops to girls, the culture of BSA has taken a dramatic shift that has proved to be too much for many faithful Scout supporters. As numbers have declined and reports of past abuse have increased, it has become sadly apparent that their restructuring was far too late and in all the wrong areas. Instead of changing to meet modern social standards, the BSA should have been cleaning up their most basic standards of care and oversight.
The result is the most tragic decline of one of the most influential children’s organizations in history.