The Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy after outpouring of sex abuse suits

The 110 year-old organization files for Chapter 11 protection to ease the financial strain of multitude of sexual abuse lawsuits

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Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America
U.S. Government photo
Last Updated:
February 18, 2020 - 4:56pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday. The filing halts proceedings on hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct within the organization spanning dozens of years. 

Jim Turley, the National Chair of the Scouts published an open letter explaining the choice of the scouts to initiate a “voluntary financial restructuring” to compensate all victims of past abuse appropriately. 

The settlements related to the suits have reportedly become financially untenable for the organization since states passed laws last year making it possible for victims from decades in the past to sue for damages.

“You’re talking about thousands of perpetrators … tens of thousands of victims,” Michael Pfau, a lawyer who has represented more than 300 Boy Scout victims in 34 states, told The New York Daily News.

In 2013, under pressure from two executive board members, BSA ceased enforcing its ban on openly gay members. 

In 2015, the organization lifted the ban on openly gay adult members. In 2017, BSA began allowing transgender boys into its ranks. The historic changes resulted in the Mormon Church, the first religious group to extensively sponsor the Scouts beginning 105 years ago, ending its partnership with the organization. 

The national branch of the Scouts say the bankruptcy filing will allow the organization to set up a “Victims Compensation Trust” and keep the nonprofit running down the line. Since 1989, membership in the BSA has fallen more than 30%. 

Local Scouting programs will continue during the bankruptcy process.