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America's Boy Scouts just filed bankruptcy. They went broke fighting sex abuse lawsuits.

Changes in statutes of limitations laws have encouraged victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of the BSA to come forward. This has placed a financial burden on the group.

America's Boy Scouts just filed bankruptcy. They went broke fighting sex abuse lawsuits.
Image Source: Boy Scouts Plant Flags At Cemetery For Memorial Day. LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 26. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been flogged by hundreds of lawsuits accusing members of the organization of sexual abuse. Due to this, the group has, unfortunately, had to file for bankruptcy protection, CBS News reports. They hope this will allow the 110-year-old organization to work out a victim compensation plan, permitting the group to continue its activities. The filing was made in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. It could potentially be one of the largest, most complicated cases of bankruptcy ever seen in the United States. At present, dozens of lawyers are fighting the Scouts on behalf of men who say they were molested by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago. Filing for bankruptcy allows the organization to put these cases on hold.

 


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Under normal circumstances, victims of sexual abuse cases surpassing a certain number of years would not be allowed to take their perpetrators to court. However, recent changes in their states' statute-of-limitations laws have permitted and encouraged victims to come forward. Therefore, several thousands of men have come forward, which has placed quite the logistical and financial burden on the Boy Scouts. Therefore, by going to bankruptcy court, the organization is able to pause litigation. However, they may be forced to sell off many of their large property holdings, such as campgrounds and hiking trails. This will enable the Scouts to establish a compensation fund amounting up to a whopping $1 billion.

 



 

Though the organization first explored the possibility of bankruptcy in December of 2018, this is the first time the Boy Scouts have acted on the thought. This represents a major shift in how the Scouts are viewed in the United States. Though the group was a pillar of American civic life in the past, the future looks rather grim. Their finances have long been shrouded by steep declines in membership; at present, membership stands at just below two million. In the 1970s, a period that is considered the peak years of the group, membership clocked in at four million members. Of course, the sexual abuse lawsuits also play a major role.

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Lawyers across the states of New York, Arizona, New Jersey, and California have been signing up clients by the hundreds to sue the BSA after these states passed laws making it easier for sexual abuse victims to come forward. Most of these cases date back to the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Though many policies, such as mandatory background checks, were established in the organization's more recent years, many young boys fell victim to traumatic incidents they should have never been exposed to. These victims, now men, are unlikely to let the Scouts get away simply by filing bankruptcy. Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents numerous clients suing the BSA, stated, "There are a lot of very angry, resentful men out there who will not allow the Boy Scouts to get away without saying what all their assets are. They want no stone unturned."

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Thankfully, the bankruptcy is unlikely to affect ongoing Scouts activities at the local level. Evan Roberts, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, explained, "Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come. Local councils are not filing for bankruptcy because they are legally separate and distinct organizations." Nonetheless, it must not be forgotten that the organization must be brought to justice for traumatizing thousands of young boys. James Kretschmer of Houston, one of the men suing the BSA, asserted, "It is a shame because, at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization. But you know, anything can be corrupted. And if they're not going to protect the people that they've entrusted with the children, then shut it down and move on."

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