The Boy Scouts of America announced on Tuesday that its national organization filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to enable it to restructure its finances and keep the 110-year-old organization going and “equitably” pay hundreds of claims by former scouts seeking compensation for alleged sexual abused by scout leaders.
The Washington Post reports that the bankruptcy filing comes after several states and D.C. changed their statute-of-limitations laws related to child sexual abuse, clearing the way for “scores of potential lawsuits” against the Boy Scouts of America for alleged sexual abuse that took place years ago.
“The BSA intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims,” the BSA says in a Feb. 18 statement.
Two knowledgeable sources that worked on efforts to persuade the Boy Scouts to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said the removal of the gay ban was not a factor in the decision to file for bankruptcy.
After years of lobbying by LGBTQ rights groups, the Boy Scouts of America in May 2013 lifted its ban on gay scouts. In July 2015 the Boy Scouts went step further by agreeing to accept qualified adult scout leaders, employees and volunteers regardless of their sexual orientation.
But at the same time it left in place the ability of religious-chartered organizations that operate local scouting councils that are independently charted from the national Boy Scouts, to use religious beliefs in selecting scout leaders. That policy allowed religiously oriented local councils to continue to reject scoutmasters on the basis of their sexual orientation.
In January 2017 the national Boy Scouts organization took yet another step in accepting LGBTQ people by ending its ban on allowing female to male transgender youth from becoming Boy Scouts.
“The BSA fully intends to maintain its commitments to its members, families, volunteer leaders, employees, retirees, donors and alumni to the fullest extent permitted by bankruptcy laws,” the BSA statement says.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting,” the statement quotes BSA President and CEO Roger Mosby as saying. “We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” Mosby said in the statement.
The statement notes that the BSA today has “some of the strongest, expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth serving organization, including mandatory youth protection training and background checks for all volunteers and staff, as well as policies that prohibit one-on-one interaction between youth and adults and require all volunteers and staff to report any suspected abuse to laws enforcement.”