At least 14 more lawsuits alleging sexual abuse were filed against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) across the country in the last three weeks. Like the rest of the lawsuits that have been filed against the organization, these cases allege that BSA not only knew of the sexual misconduct, but tracked it and documented aggressors in what came to be known as the “perversion files.” These allegations remove nearly all of the cases from the realm of personal responsibility and into the eyes of society. Files that were kept secret for generations are now going public. So are the names of the alleged predators and quite possibly, prior settlement agreements.
The subject cases were filed in New York immediately after Governor Cuomo temporarily extended the applicable statute of limitations on August 14, 2019. Earlier in the month, the BSA was stunned by a similar set of lawsuits in Philadelphia.
The Boy Scouts of America was founded and chartered by Congress in 1910. The stated objective of the organization is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” At this point in time, the organization consists of about 2.3 million Boy Scouts, 1 million volunteers and 8,500 employees.
The organization is the 18th largest not-for-profit corporation in the United States, with more than $780 million of annual revenue, and it now might be facing bankruptcy. One attorney remarked that the pedophile problem has been with the organization since its inception. That allegation is backed up by the fact that the BSA has maintained a certain category of files known as “ineligible volunteer files” since 1919. Regardless of the fact that an Oregon court ordered release of those files in 2012, it is alleged by the attorney that there is a continuing conspiracy to conceal and cover up many BSA sexual abusers. Citing a case that’s only a few months old, another attorney remarked that he believes Boy Scouts continue to be sexually abused. A third attorney says that the BSA is still withholding many “perversion files.”
Internal BSA documents obtained through discovery showed that even after credible accusations of sexual abuse, predatory sexual scoutmasters and their assistants were allowed to return to scouting. The BSA even opposed simple protective measures like background checks and FBI fingerprint screening.
Now, a new 10 count lawsuit that was filed in Pennsylvania was brought by an unnamed man who alleged that he was sexually assaulted by an assistant scoutmaster in the 1970s. The lawsuit states that the assaults began in 1974 or 1975 when he was 12 or 13 and continued until 1979 or 1980 when he was 17 or 18. The assistant scoutmaster would allegedly give the boy drugs or alcohol and sexually molest him at different times and places, including a campsite and the assistant scoutmaster’s home. The lawsuit goes on to state that the sexual abuse “included hundreds of incidents of fondling, hundreds of incidents of oral sexual assault and repeated attempts of anal penetration.”
The plaintiff in the above lawsuit is represented by a group of lawyers known as Abused in Scouting. The group maintains that it has assembled a list of about 800 clients who were sexually abused as Boy Scouts. In turn, BSA has clearly advised that it is exploring all of its legal options. Those options include seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. In 2016, the BSA made it clear that pending and future sexual abuse lawsuits could be disastrous for the financial viability of the organization.
A financial report from that year stated: “In the event that the General Liability Insurance Program or its reserves are insufficient to resolve such claims, it is the opinion of the National Council that the total amount of payments to resolve current and future claims could have a significant impact on the financial position or the results of operations of the National Council.”
The mere filing of a Chapter 11 petition by the BSA would operate to stay all pending cases and bar new cases from being filed. Pending cases could still be negotiated though. The bankruptcy process could take several years. The BSA won’t comment on how many lawsuits have been filed against it across the country or how much has been paid out in settlements or judgments. Now, at least 16 Colorado men are alleging that they were sexually abused when they were Boy Scouts, but they must file soon in order to beat the clock on any Chapter 11 filing.