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Officials with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are calling for any and all individuals with sexual abuse claims to file through a compensation program that will be part of the organization’s bankruptcy, indicating that between 1,000 to 5,000 additional claims may be filed in coming weeks or months.
Following an announcement earlier this month that the Boy Scouts’ central organization has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the group has launched a restructuring website, which details the progress of the bankruptcy proceedings and how to be part of the sexual abuse compensation program.
The web page urges all victims to come forward and file to be compensated. However, officials note that they are unsure how long the window for filing such claims will be open.
“The BSA encourages all victims to come forward to file a claim in the case. However, the deadline for filing abuse claims has not yet been set by the Bankruptcy Court,” the restructuring site notes. “As a next step, the BDA will ask the Bankruptcy Court for approval of a proof of claim form for abuse victims. Once the Bankruptcy Court approves that form, the deadline for filing claims will be set. We expect that deadline to be later this year.”
The bankruptcy filing and the offer of a Boy Scouts sexual abuse compensation program has not stopped plaintiffs nationwide from filing individual lawsuits against the organization, particularly in states where the statute of limitation laws have recently been extended to allow claims to be brought decades after the abuse occurred. Those laws and the subsequent lawsuits filed were cited as a primary reason the Boy Scouts declared bankruptcy.
Hundreds of lawsuits, involving thousands of plaintiffs, have already been filed nationwide over the last year alone, and the organization faces substantial liability after ignoring and covering up problems with known sexual abusers for decades within the Boy Scouts.
While most of those cases have been filed in state courts so far, a recent complaint filed in Missouri has become one of the first federal cases after it was removed from Jackson County Circuit Court to the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri.
The lawsuit claims that a former assistant scoutmaster, Terry A. Wright, molested an 11-year-old boy in 2016. In 2018, Wright was convicted of child molestation.
Boy Scout “Perversion” Files
According to allegations raised in the complaints, Boy Scouts of America buried information about known threats to children by keeping secret “perversion files” on those considered to be sexual predators who had worked with the organization.
Plaintiffs maintain those files were maintained in New Jersey for some time, indicating that between 1944 and 2016, there were 7,819 perpetrators who were either troop leaders or volunteers, believed to have abused at least 12,254 victims.
The Boy Scouts has confirmed the existence of the files, indicating they were used to ensure the group never knowingly allowed a sexual predator access to youths in its organization.
Those seeking to participate in the compensation program can call 1-866-907-BSA1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.