Boy Scouts of America reaches $850m agreement with sexual abuse victims

Settlement marks one of the largest sums in US history involving cases of sexual abuse

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization has reached an $850m agreement with attorneys representing about 60,000 victims of child sexual abuse in what could prove to be a pivotal moment in the group’s bankruptcy case.

The settlement would mark one of the largest sums in US history involving cases of sexual abuse.

Attorneys for the BSA filed court papers late on Thursday outlining a restructuring support agreement with attorneys representing abuse victims.

The agreement also includes attorneys representing local Boy Scouts councils and lawyers appointed to represent victims who might file future claims.

“After months of intensive negotiations, the debtors have reached resolution with every single official and major creditor constituency in these chapter 11 cases,” BSA attorneys wrote, with chapter 11 referring to bankruptcy protection, a legal facility allowing struggling companies to continue operating while roped off from creditors and plaintiffs, while they negotiate with a variety of financial institutions, unions or courts.

The Boy Scouts of America, based in Irving, Texas, sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020, moving to halt hundreds of lawsuits and create a compensation fund for men who were molested as youngsters decades ago by scoutmasters or other leaders.

But BSA attorneys have been unable to get attorneys for victims, the BSA’s local councils and sponsoring organizations, and insurers to agree on a global resolution that would compensate abuse victims while allowing the 111-year-old organization to continue operating.

The agreement signals the BSA’s acknowledgment that the gulf between attorneys representing abuse victims and those representing the BSA’s insurers is currently too broad to be resolved.

They may very well be left to resolve their differences in future court battles, a prospect that the BSA had sought to avoid.

In an earlier court filing on Thursday, attorneys for certain insurance companies accused the BSA of allowing attorneys for abuse victims to rewrite the BSA’s restructuring plan to include terms favorable to their clients.

“With only the fox guarding the henhouse, the outcome is utterly at odds with what BSA itself asserted was necessary for a confirmable plan and is permissible under the bankruptcy code,” the insurers wrote.

Attorneys for insurers appear to be particularly concerned that the BSA’s liability for abuse claims would be adjudicated under proposed trust distribution procedures in an effort to decide insurance coverage issues.

Meanwhile, in connection with the restructuring support agreement, attorneys for the Boy Scouts are asking for US bankruptcy judge Laurie Selber Silverstein to declare that they have no obligation to seek court approval of a previously announced settlement with the Hartford, one of the BSA’s insurers.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for 20 July.

In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support for rape and sexual abuse on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html


Guardian staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Boy Scouts will sell Norman Rockwell paintings to fund sexual abuse claim payments
Organization to create $300m victims’ fund to deal with legal claims made by more than 85,000 former scouts

Victoria Bekiempis

02, Mar, 2021 @5:38 PM

Article image
Boy Scouts and Mexico both deny claims of calling Trump to offer praise
Donald Trump had said that Mexico’s president ‘complimented’ him on fewer border crossings and a Scouts head lauded his ‘greatest speech ever’

Adam Gabbatt in New York

02, Aug, 2017 @4:26 PM

Article image
Boy Scouts of America affirm ban on gay members and volunteers

Critics call decision to keep gay men and lesbians from participating a 'missed opportunity of colossal proportions'

Amanda Holpuch in New York

17, Jul, 2012 @5:04 PM

Article image
'I’m 100% excited': Girl Scouts from New York homeless shelters hold first ever cookie sale
Troop 6000, which is made up of girls who live in homeless shelters, cheered by crowds as they set up cookie stand in Manhattan cafe

Adam Gabbatt in New York

13, Apr, 2018 @1:30 PM

Article image
Boy Scouts of America vote to end ban on gay youth members

Vote at annual meeting in Texas may relieve political pressure but openly gay leaders are still banned

Amanda Holpuch

23, May, 2013 @10:22 PM

Article image
Boy Scouts of America: Merck pulls funding in protest at gay ban

Pharmaceutical giant says it will consider giving money again 'when the organisation's inclusion criteria has been expanded'

Dominic Rushe

10, Dec, 2012 @4:51 PM

Article image
Transgender boy removed from Boy Scouts troop in New Jersey
Joe Maldonado is at the center of the first known case of a trans child being banned from organization that recently began accepting gay scouts and leaders

Nicole Puglise and agencies

28, Dec, 2016 @5:00 PM

Article image
'I am livid': Donald Trump criticized for odd, disjointed speech to Boy Scouts
Parents and family of scouts complained after Trump encouraged boos for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and bragged about attending ‘hot’ New York parties

Jamiles Lartey and agencies

26, Jul, 2017 @6:15 AM

Article image
Boy Scouts of America discussing u-turn on gay members ban

Move to reverse Scouts' current position, which has come under attack from the Obama administration and local groups

Dominic Rushe in New York

29, Jan, 2013 @8:28 AM

Scouts sued for $14m over forest fire
The US government and Utah state are suing the Boy Scouts of America for almost $14m damages for a troop's failure to follow one of the movement's most hallowed rules: putting out the campfire.

David Teather in New York

01, Jul, 2004 @1:52 AM