The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday as the cost of child sexual abuse allegations mounts. The organization reportedly hopes to build up a victim compensation plan that will allow it to continue existing in some capacity. According to The Associated Press, this "could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen."
The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware on Tuesday. The organization reportedly faces claims of child molestation from several thousand men.
Many of the allegations are lumped together in the filings of a few dozen lawyers, who are seeking settlements on behalf of multiple alleged victims. The men generally claim they were molested by scoutmasters or other leaders while they were underage. Many of them are newly eligible to sue the Boy Scouts thanks to changes in their states' statute-of-limitations laws.
The Boy Scouts of America organization reportedly hopes to gather $1 billion in funds for the settlements, all pooled in one compensation trust fund. The bankruptcy petition listed the assets of the organization, estimating their value between $1 billion and $10 billion, with liabilities between $500 million and $1 billion.
If the Boy Scouts of America is granted bankruptcy, it will be able to put these lawsuits on hold temporarily. Ultimately, however, the organization will likely have to sell off some of its property holdings, which are immense. The Boy Scouts of America owns campgrounds, hiking trails and other outdoor recreation areas around the country.
The Boy Scouts of America has publicly encouraged any and all victims to come forward and file a claim. The organization's main objective seems to be survival beyond this torrent of scandals.
"Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come," read a statement from the organization. "Local councils are not filing for bankruptcy because they are legally separate and distinct organizations."0comments
"We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children," added Boy Scouts of America CEO Roger Mosby. "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."
The Boy Scouts of America have existed for over 110 years, and is seen by many as a pillar of American life. However, waning enrollment numbers have taken a toll on it in recent years as well, so there is no telling what lies in store for the organization.