News & Politics

Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy Amid Soaring Sex-Abuse Lawsuits

Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy Amid Soaring Sex-Abuse Lawsuits
Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance to begin a Veterans Day ceremony in Wrightwood, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (James Quigg/The Daily Press via AP)

The controversy-plagued Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which has been slowly caving to progressive bullying for years, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it tries to work out how to pay out a multitude of sex-abuse lawsuits.

According to the Associated Press, “Scores of lawyers are seeking settlements on behalf of several thousand men who say they were molested as scouts by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago but are only now eligible to sue because of recent changes in their states’ statute-of-limitations laws.”

BSA will likely have to sell significant amounts of property they own, such as campgrounds and hiking trails, in order to raise the money needed to cover the settlements, which could be in excess of a billion dollars. The organization reportedly has assets between $1 billion and $10 billion.

The financial outlook had worsened last year after New York, Arizona, New Jersey and California passed laws making it easier for victims of long-ago abuse to file claims. Teams of lawyers across the U.S. have been signing up clients by the hundreds to sue the Boy Scouts.

Most of the newly surfacing cases date to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s; the organization says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018. The Boy Scouts credit the change to an array of prevention policies adopted since the mid-1980s, including mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders be present during all activities.

The organization, which was founded in 1910, has been struggling with declining membership. In the seventies, their membership rolls were over 4 million, but have now dropped to below 2 million. In the past ten years, the organization decided to allow openly gay members and leaders. In 2017, they decided to open up their membership to girls as well. The organization took a major hit when longtime sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, decided to cut ties with the organization and withdrew over 400,000 scouts from BSA in favor of their own programs.

“It is a shame because at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization,” said one of men suing for alleged abuse. “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.”