Boy Scout Sex Abuse Claims

Boy Scouts of America’s Bankruptcy Is Expected to Result in the Settlement of Sex Abuse Claims


The Boy Scouts of America promised to provide the tools to allow young people to “grow into their very best future selves.” It promised to teach them to “be prepared” for life by learning survival skills, the value of teamwork, and the importance of responsibility and character. However, for thousands of young people, those lessons were lost when the Boy Scouts provided an avenue for children to be exposed to men and women who would use their position as scoutmasters to prey on them.

For decades, the Boy Scouts of America knew it had a problem. It knew children were being victimized. In fact,  the national Boy Scout leadership was not only aware the abuse was ongoing, it even maintained a file called “the perversion files” where it kept detailed accounts of inappropriate behavior and abuse by thousands of scout leaders across the country reported to the organization.

The Boy Scout Perversion Files Data Base was made public pursuant to a court order from The Honorable John Wittmayer in the State of Oregon.  The ruling was later upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court on June 14, 2012.  The database contains information on approximately 5,000 men and a handful of women who were suspended or expelled from the Boy Scouts Organization due to suspicion or a report of sexual abuse.  If you would like to review the ‘perversion files’ the database is available for review at: https://spreadsheets.latimes.com/boyscouts-cases/

The perversion files were extensive but the database does not include every case, as many cases went unreported. However, the database does include cases where Scoutmasters and other leaders who had been credibly accused of molestation and spans over fifty years. But, despite the widespread abuse and the knowledge of that abuse by those at the very top of the organization, the Boy Scouts failed to report the behavior to the authorities. It did not warn the parents of the innocent children who would be forever scarred. It did not send the abusers to jail.

In fact, the Boy Scouts took little to no effort to prevent pedophiles from entering the organization. Even when a known abuser had been “blacklisted” by the organization, time and time again they were able to rejoin. All the while, the Boy Scouts concealed the abuse, failed to properly investigate allegations and hid the names of the men who were responsible.

Eventually, as the victims became adults with the power and strength to face the abuse, lawsuits began to be brought against the Boy Scouts. First, there were a handful of cases, then dozens and now thousands of survivors have come forward in an effort to hold the Boy Scouts accountable.

In February of this year the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amidst the claims of sexual abuse filed against the organization. It is suspected that the bankruptcy will end in the largest settlement of childhood sexual abuse claims in history.  Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the organization to “reorganize” its debts. Under the reorganization, the Boy Scouts will negotiate and pay off much of its debt while still maintaining certain of its assets. This allows the organization to continue to exist. Some of the largest debts that will be negotiated are the lawsuits filed by thousands who allege sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts.

Through the bankruptcy process, the Boy Scouts is planning to establish a victims’ compensation trust that will provide a settlement to the survivors of sexual abuse. The establishment of this trust may effectively end the thousands of lawsuits currently filed against Boy Scouts of America. Rather than a traditional lawsuit, a judge in Delaware will determine the amount of the Boy Scouts’ assets that will need to be used to settle the claims and how the assets will be divided among the plaintiffs.

The bankruptcy court required in order to be compensated for a claim, anyone who had experienced sexual victimization or abuse at the hands of the Boy Scouts of America was required to file a claim before November 16, 2020.   About 97,000 sexual abuse claim forms were filed in the Boy Scout of America Bankruptcy Court before the deadline – making it the largest-ever child sex abuse case involving a single national organization.  The number of claims exceeded all expectations.

So far, the bankruptcy has cost the Boy Scout Organization more than $41 million.  The Boy Scouts can’t afford to allow the bankruptcy to linger.  It is hoping to establish a compensation trust for survivors and move beyond the bankruptcy proceeding by summer.  It remains to be seen whether the Boy Scout Organization will survive the litigation.