ST. GEORGE — The Boy Scouts of America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is expected to result in the largest child sexual abuse settlement in American history. Through bankruptcy, the Scouts have created the Victims Compensation Trust to compensate victims abused by Scout leaders.
The Boy Scouts of America is made up of approximately 2.2 million members between the ages of 5-21 and has roughly 800,000 volunteers throughout the United States. Since the Boy Scouts started over 100 years ago, more than 130 million boys and girls have participated in its youth programs.
In recent years, thousands of survivors of alleged sexual abuse have come forward against the national organization, accusing the Scouts of failing to protect them.
As waves of sexual misconduct allegations started pouring in, the Scouts filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 18 and set up a the Victims Compensation Trust to provide compensation for victims abused by Scout leaders during their childhood.
Through the trust, the Scouts plans to allocate funds to child sexual abuse victims who have already won cases but have not received their settlement, victims who are presently pursuing cases and victims who have yet to file claims against the Scouts.
In court papers, Boy Scout files revealed that since 1920, 7,800 abusers molested more than 12,000 boys, many incidents of which took place in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, before the Scouts ran criminal background checks and implemented abuse education and protocols for volunteers and staff.
Between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts paid out over $150 million between settlements and legal costs, and now the organization hopes to deliver an equitable distribution of funds to victims of alleged sexual abuse while at the same time preserving the organization and keeping its doors open.
In light of the thousands of sexual abuse allegations against the Scouts, the organization said that bankruptcy was “the only viable option” it had to pay victims, consolidate all of its cases and emerge as a sustainable entity.
People who have been sexually abused by Scout leaders, even decades ago, must file their lawsuits before the Nov. 16 deadline. If they miss this small window, they will be barred from bringing a lawsuit against the Scouts later.
“While financial compensation cannot erase the pain and suffering victims of child sexual abuse have experienced in their lifetimes, it can help mitigate the negative impact it has had on them individually, as well as on their families and careers,” a press release from Swenson & Shelley Law states. “Compensation can also help provide more options in regard to financial security and mental health treatment.”
Southern Utah residents can discuss filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America by contacting Swenson & Shelley Injury Attorneys located at 107 South 1470 East, Suite 201, St. George. Those interested can also visit their website or call 435-767-7777.