The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for bankruptcy on February 18, 2020 in a landmark move, following hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits brought against the organization in civil courts throughout the United States.
Abuse victims allege that the organization negligently accepted pedophiles as Boy Scout leaders, while intentionally hiding reports of abuse from law enforcement authorities and the victims’ families. In doing so, they allowed these pedophiles to continue harming victims for years.
As the news continues to unfold, you’re bound to have questions about many aspects of the case. The experts at Hurley McKenna & Mertz provide insight into the most common questions below.
Your Top Questions About the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Filing, Answered
1. Can non-profit organizations declare bankruptcy?
Yes. When a non-profit organization or company declares bankruptcy, it usually claims its liabilities exceed its assets. In the case of the BSA’s filing, however, the national organization said it had assets exceeding $1 billion and liabilities totaling somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion.
The BSA is filing for what’s known as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow the organization to continue operating as it restructures its finances into a trust with which it will pay potential victims.
2. Will the Boy Scouts go out of business?
Because the BSA filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see above), it will continue operations as it restructures its finances.
3. How long does a bankruptcy filing take?
Granting or denying bankruptcy can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case. Some bankruptcies take a few months, while others last years.
4. How does the Boy Scouts bankruptcy affect current cases?
Any cases against the Boy Scouts currently in civil litigation are paused due to the bankruptcy filing. If the bankruptcy is granted, the victims’ compensation could be paid out from a set amount made up of the Boy Scouts assets. From there, it’ll be distributed amongst all victims who come forward based on various factors, including the strength of each claim.
5. How many Boy Scouts sexual abuse victims are there?
It’s hard to say for certain, but the BSA hired an investigator recently who identified 12,254 victims documented by the BSA. There are hundreds of cases currently making their way through civil litigation, and an unknown number of victims who have yet to come forward.
6. How do I file a claim against the Boy Scouts?
An experienced attorney can help you file a claim against the Boy Scouts. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse by a Boy Scouts leader, or any other official or member of that organization, you must contact an attorney to file a claim as soon as possible. The Boy Scouts will likely ask the Bankruptcy Court to set a very small window for victims to come forward and make claims.
7. How long do I have to take action against the Boy Scouts?
BSA has asked the court to bar certain creditors from bringing claims after 80 days. If the court agrees, this may mean you must come forward in that timeframe, or you may forever be barred from bringing a claim.
8. What do I need to know about filing a claim against the Boy Scouts?
The most crucial thing to know is that you need to act immediately. If you’re a victim of sexual abuse by someone in the Boy Scouts organization, coming to terms with your experience and coping with the trauma can be incredibly difficult. It can take decades for victims to recognize what happened to them and gain the courage to come forward, so the shortened time frame for making claims (see above) could hinder some people from ever getting justice.
If you work with an attorney to file a claim against the Boy Scouts in the Bankruptcy Court, you likely won’t have to appear in court and give a testimony. This is a relief for some. However, many victims find it helpful to come forward and finally tell their story to the lawyer who will handle their claim. It can ultimately be cathartic, and the resolution of the claim can provide a sense of closure.
Generally, in bankruptcies like this one, victims must provide the Court with information about their case or claim. In a sexual abuse case, that could include information about the time frame in which the abuse took place, the location of the abuse, the identity of the abuser, and the severity of the abuse. The Court will determine what information is necessary to evaluate these claims before you’re required to submit information. The information will then be used to determine the value of your claim.
Be prepared for potentially difficult emotions and memories to resurface, but know that when you work with an experienced attorney, the process can be simpler than expected—and you can start to recover as fully as possible.
9. How much money will Boy Scout victims be awarded?
The value of each individual claim will depend on a number of factors, but is ultimately determined by a formula set by the Bankruptcy Court.
Based on our experience representing hundreds of victims of abuse, we are able to help victims provide evidence to the Bankruptcy Court to achieve the maximum recovery available for their claims.
Follow Along With the Latest News About the Boy Scouts
The Boy Scouts bankruptcy filing is an ongoing process, and claimants will continue to hear news updates about the case as it unfolds.
The experts at Hurley McKenna & Mertz represent more than 1,400 former Boy Scouts who are victims of sexual abuse. We’re tracking all of the news related to the Boy Scouts bankruptcy filing—and what it means for claimants—here.