Almost 90,000 people filed child sex abuse claims against Boy Scouts of America on Monday, just ahead of a deadline in the organization's federal bankruptcy case. It is the largest child sex abuse case against a single national organization. The number was far more than the Boy Scouts predicted it would face when the group filed for bankruptcy in February.
"We are devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who came forward," the Boy Scouts said in a statement Monday, reports USA Today. "The response we have seen from survivors has been gut-wrenching. We are deeply sorry." The number of claims jumped in recent days because no one will be allowed to file a suit against the organization after the Nov. 16 deadline. When the organization filed for bankruptcy, it was facing 275 state and federal lawsuits and 1,400 potential claims.
The number of claims filed before the deadline was shocking, even to Paul Mones, the attorney who represented victims in a landmark 2010 case. "Even for me, who probably has been doing this since the beginning, I couldn’t see it coming," he told USA Today. "Not these numbers." The 2020 case ended in the Boy Scouts being ordered to pay $19.9 million in damages, the biggest amount ever for a single individual against an organization. During the case, the Boy Scouts were ordered to release over 20,000 secret documents. They revealed the organization tracked suspected abusers but did not report them to police in every case.
More than 55,000 of the new claims come from the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, a collection of law firms that joined the mediation discussions in October. Mones represents about 400 clients in the case and said they range from teenagers to men over 80 years old. Many of the allegations were not reported before. Abused In Scouting represents another 17,000 clients.
"Any time you have an organization whose goal is to take young boys into the woods, sleeping in tents, being away from their parents, where you have one person being an adult that is responsible for those boys in that type of isolated environment, that’s a recipe for pedophilia," Ken Rothweiler of Abused In Scouting told USA Today. "A lot of other groups don’t have that model. It really is a recipe for disaster."