The Boy Scouts of America, a 110-year-old organization, is struggling to stay afloat financially in the face of hundreds, if not thousands of sexual misconduct lawsuits.
On Tuesday, the BSA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, which will halt the legal action, according to the New York Daily News. The organization is vowing to “compensate victims,” and “continue carrying out its mission for years to come.”
The organization’s finances were reportedly strained by previous settlements.
Citing the Wall Street Journal, the Daily News reported the national organization has assets around $1.4 billion, and is pursuing a compensation strategy that will protect a larger sum, about $3.3 billion, held by its many local councils.
Roger Mosby, president and chief executive officer of the BSA, apologized to victims in a news release and said “equitable compensation” will be provided.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting,” he said. “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,” Mosby added.
A Victims Compensation Fund will be set up, and the organization said it “has an important duty to keep children safe, supported and protected while preparing them for their futures, and the organization has every intention of continuing to fulfill these important responsibilities.”
“Scouting will continue to provide unparalleled programs to young people – keeping them safe, supported and protected as it prepares them for their futures,” the release said.
Attorney Michael Pfau has represented over 300 Boy Scout victims in 34 states, said there are many more victims to come.
“You’re talking about thousands of perpetrators,” Pfau told the 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.”
One group, Abused in Scouting, represents over 1,800 victims.
In an open letter to victims, BSA National Chair Jim Turley apologized for any abuse that took place and encouraged victims to come forward, saying the organization has a “social and moral responsibility” to take action.
“We believe that all victims should receive our support and compensation – and we have taken decisive action to make that possible,” Turley wrote, before mentioning the Victims Compensation Fund.
“I encourage you, and all victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this Trust,” he said. “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.
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