The Boy Scouts of America–an organization that was founded 110 years ago–has just filed for bankruptcy. The move comes after hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits were filed against the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America, the largest youth organization in the United States, has long struggled with a public image problem. While the Girl Scouts (who are not affiliated with the BSA) have evolved with the times and embraced a more diverse group of scouts, the Boy Scouts received criticism for turning away prospective transgender scouts.
But it turns out that the PR problems were nothing compared to the alleged decades of sexual abuse that the organization, at best, did nothing to stop.
“We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement,” the organization said in an official statement.
However, court testimony revealed that the organization had allowed more than 12,000 children to be abused over the past seven decades. The widespread and long-running culture of alleged sexual abuse appears to be part of the Boy Scouts’ tainted legacy.
Now, those victims won’t get to have their day in court. Because of the bankruptcy filing, the 300 lawsuits filed by victims will no longer be able to air their accusations in a jury trial. Instead, the Boy Scouts of America intends to create a fund to support the victims, according to NPR.
“For years, organizations like the Boy Scouts counted on these laws protecting them,” says Paul Mones, the attorney representing many of those victims. “Now those laws are not there, and the Boy Scouts have fallen under their own weight of these abuse allegations and the potential cases that will be filed.”
Despite filing for bankruptcy as an organization, the BSA shielded their local councils, which will be able to continue to operate independently.
The organization stated, “Local councils, which provide programming, financial, facility and administrative support to Scouting units in their communities, have not filed for bankruptcy. They are legally separate, distinct and financially independent from the national organization.”
However, it’s unclear how the Boy Scouts can move forward with the weight of this scandal. Will parents continue to enroll their sons in the program, knowing what happened to so many thousands of boys under the care of the BSA?
Attorney Paul Mones thinks that this is just the beginning, and that other organizations that have allegedly covered up abuse of minors should be aware that a reckoning is coming.
“If the largest youth organization by far in the United States can be crippled under the weight of doing nothing about their sexual abuse allegations and covering the problem up, I think it is a warning shot across the bow to all churches and youth organizations and schools that have this problem and don’t act proactively to resolve it,” he says.