The Boy Scouts of America are urging victims to come forward after the 110-year-old organization filed for bankruptcy protection in the first step toward dealing with a barrage of sexual abuse lawsuits.
The nonprofit, which celebrated its 110th anniversary on February 8 sought Chapter 11 protection in a court filing early Tuesday, listing liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, but $50,000 or less in assets.
Abused in Scouting, a network of law firms representing victims, said the bankruptcy proceedings could spell the end of the Boy Scouts.
"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".
A similar bankruptcy strategy to resolve sex abuse lawsuits has been used by more than 20 Catholic dioceses and USA Gymnastics.
A spokesperson for the Boy Scouts, which now has more than two million members, said Tuesday the local councils will not be affected by the bankruptcy as as they are legally separate and distinct organizations from the national organization, which is "working diligently to protect local councils' interests through this process". BSA's scouting programs will continue throughout.
Lamison said he wants people to know that Heart Of New England's camps - Treasure Valley Scout Reservation in Rutland, Camp Split Rock in Ashburnham and Camp Wanocksett in Dublin, New Hampshire - along with its properties and all local contributions are controlled by the council.
Note, however, that all this refers to the national organization.
Turley said he was "truly heartbroken" that members were harmed, "outraged" at predators who committed the acts and "also outraged that there were times when volunteers and employees ignored our procedures or forgave transgressions that are unforgivable".
All civil lawsuits against it are now on hold as a result of the bankruptcy application as the group is struggling with declining membership as well as the abuse claims.
Such claims have been swelling.
"If the largest youth organization by far in the United States can be crippled under the weight of doing nothing about their sexual abuse allegations and covering the problem up, I think it is a warning shot across the bow to all churches and youth organizations and schools that have this problem and don't act proactively to resolve it", he says. A bankruptcy filing could short-circuit those laws by putting a final deadline on claims. But mounting lawsuits have drained its finances.
Bankruptcy proceedings will help the Boy Scouts to "equitably compensate" victims through the establishment of a victims' compensation trust and allow the organization to continue at a local level, a statement from the group said.
James Kretschmer of Houston, among the many men suing for alleged abuse, said he was molested by a Scout leader over several months in the mid-1970s in the Spokane, Washington, area.