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Lawsuits & Litigation

Bankruptcy Judge Gives Boy Scouts Reprieve from Sex Abuse Cases

— June 12, 2020

The injunction will prevent any new claims from being filed against the Boy Scouts’ local councils.

A federal bankruptcy judge has signed an injunction that will halt child sex abuse cases against the Boy Scouts of America’s local councils from proceeding until at least November 16th.

The Monday injunction, says The Associated Press, mandates that local councils requesting continued relief sign agreements by July 6th. Such agreements would require councils to provide the Boy Scouts’ national-level administration with information on their finances and assets.

The A.P. notes that local councils—which run on-the-ground operations for the Scouts—are not listed as debtors in the organization’s federal bankruptcy proceedings. Legally, they are considered separate entities from the Boy Scouts of America, even though they are “related parties.”

Attorneys for victims of child sex abuse have said they will pursue claims against the national Boy Scouts as well as individual chapters and their respective holdings, such as campsites and real estate.

Collection of Boy Scouts badges. Image via PublicDomainPictures/user:Junior Libby. Public domain.

The Boy Scouts, adds The Associated Press, sought bankruptcy protections in February. The Scouts had hoped to halt the hundreds of individual sex abuse lawsuits piling up against it. Since then, the BSA have pledged to create a large compensation fund for men who were sexually harassed or sexually assaulted by Scout-affiliated staff and volunteers.

The Boy Scouts, as LegalReader has mentioned before, maintained extensive records on scoutmasters and volunteers suspected of sexual misconduct. The documents, which have seen become known as the “Perversion Files,” were circulated among Scout chapters with the intent of preventing serial offenders from migrating to other councils after being barred from one.

The “Perversion Files” suggest that more than 12,000 young Scouts were molested by 7,800 predators since the 1920s. Attorneys have since estimated that the files could substantiate or otherwise form the basis for some 7,000 claims in the bankruptcy case.

Jamie Stang, an attorney for the committee representing abuse survivors, told the court on Monday that he is anticipating a “substantial” data download from the Boy Scouts. This download, says The A.P., would provide information on documented abuse, as reported by local councils.

Stang noted that some local councils have already shared data with the abuse committee, albeit on a confidential basis. And any further information divulged will be subject to a protective order.

However, Stang said that a related collection of creditor committees will vigorously pursue data from non-reporting councils through normal court processes.

The Monday hearing, reports The Associated Press, also saw Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein appoint two of three mediators proposed by the Boy Scouts for the bankruptcy case. Silverstein diverged from the Scouts’ third suggestion, choosing a former Delaware bankruptcy judge instead.

The Scouts anticipate having to protect organizational properties from creditor claims, and have maintained that their summer camps and ranches should not be sold off as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

“The debtors should not be forced to monetize those assets to satisfy the claims of creditors,” BSA attorney Jessica Boleter said.

In the meantime, attorneys for victims have emphasized that anyone who was sexually assaulted as a Scout can still come forward.

“The most important thing will be, even if you think you don’t have a claim because of how long ago it happened, you should file a claim,” said Christopher Hurley of Chicago-based Hurley McKenna & Mertz.

The Boy Scouts are currently facing at least 275 abuse lawsuits on top of 1,400 additional claims. Hurley, for instance, told USA Today that his firm alone is handling an estimated 1,400 abuse cases.

BSA, too, has encouraged victims to come forward, saying in a statement that it is “committed to compensating victims through its restructuring.”

“We encourage all victims to file a claim and will be providing extensive noticing to ensure that there is a clear process for them to do so,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement.


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Suits remain halted, mediation eyed in Boy Scouts bankruptcy

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