Youth organization Boy Scouts of America has been facing abuse allegations for decades. Thousands of young men have come forward with horrific allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of troop leaders.
Survivors have been granted until November 16, 2020 to file claims against the organization as creditors in its bankruptcy proceedings. This case might be the biggest child sex abuse case against a single national organization in the American legal landscape.
In October, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein allowed a group representing 28,000 clients to join mediation discussions. This group, known as the Coalition of Abused Scouts, has already received consent forms from 7,300 survivors represented by 10 law firms. Even more are expected to sign up before November 16. Another group, Abused in Scouting, represents around 13,000 claimants.
The Legal Proceedings Against the Boy Scouts of America
The Boys Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, as it continued to face a growing number of abuse allegations. Approximately 275 lawsuits had been filed in state and federal courts. Additionally, 1,400 individuals were also poised to make claims. Now, this number has only grown, with tens of thousands of victims coming forward as creditors in the bankruptcy proceeding.
The Boy Scouts of America has been facing civil litigation since 2010, when a case against the organization resulted in a $19.9 million payout. This remains the largest settlement to date for anyone raising a claim against the organization.
More than 20,000 confidential documents, later called the “perversion files,” became public over the course of the trial.
According to these files, the organization had known of suspected and confirmed abusers, but failed to report them to the police, or reveal the issue to parents of the Scouts and the general public. The records show a list of more than 1,000 banned volunteers.
Uphill Compensation Battle for Survivors
In its initial filing, the organization proposed a Victims Compensation Trust, but it is unclear how much would be allocated to it. For now, survivors are being treated as creditors in the bankruptcy process. This might not be the ideal way to deal with these cases, according to Marci Hamilton, CEO of CHILD USA, a nonprofit organization which works to protect children against abuse.
She said that the goal of federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy is “to be able to reorganize your assets to put a lid on any kind of future claims by people you currently owe. It never was intended for child sex abuse.”
This has, however, become the model followed by organizations with large numbers of victims, such as the Catholic Church, Hamilton added.
In the recent past, there have been many instances of abuse by priests and religious leaders across religious denominations. But in the case of the Catholic Church, cases have been filed against individual dioceses, making it unclear how many allegations the Church as a whole is facing.
The 260 local councils of the Boy Scouts of America have been granted an injunction, which means that all civil cases against them have been halted until the bankruptcy proceedings are wound up. Despite this, many lawyers continue to file cases in states where “look-back windows” which extend the time when a claim can be filed are closing.
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We Can Help
Many abuse survivors may hesitate to come forward to seek justice and compensation for their suffering. We believe there are many more people who have not yet reported the abuse they have faced at the hands of authority figures, be it coaches, teachers, boy scout leaders, or priests. Many such figures have taken gross advantage of their power and positions of responsibility, and hurt innocent young children.
If you are a survivor of abuse, we are here to offer you compassionate representation and guidance. Reach out to our team for a confidential, free consultation. You deserve justice and peace of mind.
If you wish to file a claim against the Boy Scouts of America, remember, November 16, 2020 is the final deadline.