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A Timeline of Sexual Abuse by the Boy Scouts of America

April 15, 2024  ·  By HM&M

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As you may be aware, more than 82,000 victims of sexual abuse have filed claims against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

But did you know that this abuse has been taking place since the organization’s beginnings?

BSA has long been an institution that many have associated with wholesome values and character-building experiences for young boys. However, behind the façade of scout badges and campfires lies a dark history of sexual abuse that has scarred countless lives. In recent years, a wave of allegations and legal battles has brought this issue to the forefront, shedding light on the pervasive nature of abuse within the organization.

Below, we present a detailed timeline chronicling the fight for justice for survivors of sexual abuse by the Boy Scouts of America.

>>> Related read: BSA BANKRUPTCY UPDATE: Hurley McKenna & Mertz Town Hall Meeting for Clients with BSA Bankruptcy Claims

Timeline of Sexual Abuse by the Boy Scouts of America

February 1910

The Boy Scouts of America was founded. Sexual abuse took place as early as this year.

May 1913

The Mormon Church partnered with the Boy Scouts of America as its first charter organization. At one point, the relationship was so strong that the church encouraged young boys to join the BSA, and one out of every five BSA members was Mormon. The closeness of this relationship, coupled with the church’s encouragement to join the BSA, added to the sexual abuse that remained largely unchecked for decades within the Mormon Church.

October 2012

The Oregon court ordered the Boy Scouts of America to release its Perversion Files, which details hidden sexual abuse cases from the mid-1960s to mid-1980s.


Between 2017 and 2019, the Boy Scouts of America paid out more than $150 million in settlements to sexual abuse victims.

December 2019

The Mormon Church ends its more than 100-year-old partnership with the Boy Scouts of America.

February 2020

In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy and proposed a Chapter 11 reorganization plan, citing the mounting legal costs and liabilities resulting from sexual abuse claims. This move sent shockwaves through the scouting community and marked a turning point in the battle for accountability.

November 2020

Scouting abuse victims had until Nov.16, 2020, to file claims against the BSA.

September 2021

On Sept. 15, 2021, the BSA filed its Fifth Amended Plan, which contained a $787 million settlement with The Hartford insurance company and a $250 million settlement with TCJC (also known as the Mormon Church and/or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), among others. Check out an overview of the plan here.

October 2021

Detective Michael Johnson, the former Youth Protection Director of the BSA, urged Congress to open an investigation into the organization. In his letter, he wrote, “Scouts BSA fails to meet the minimum standard of care for such a high-risk organization. Until stronger safeguards are put in place, no child is safe in Scouts BSA.”

February 2022

Hurley McKenna & Mertz’s (HMM) Christopher Hurley and Evan Smola, working in conjunction with the Tort Claimants’ Committee (TCC) in the BSA’s bankruptcy proceeding, negotiated important modifications to the BSA’s reorganization plan. The same month, the TCC urged all BSA Abuse Survivors to vote to accept the BSA’s revised plan.

March 2023

On March 28, 2023, the District Court affirmed the Bankruptcy Court, which represented a major step towards establishing the Settlement Trust and processing the claims of victims of BSA abuse.

April 2023

The BSA’s $2.4 billion fund to pay sex-abuse claims officially went into effect.

August 2023

Judge Houser, the Trustee of the BSA Settlement Trust, hosted a Town Hall meeting on Aug. 29, 2023, where she and Claims Administrator Randi Ilyse Roth discussed their roles as mandated by the approved BSA Plan of Reorganization and the Trust Distribution Procedures. During the meeting, they also provided a high-level overview of what claimants could expect from the process and answered attendee questions.

February 2024

On Feb. 9, 2024, a group of 144 sexual abuse survivors requested to block the BSA’s $2.46 billion settlement from moving forward. The group who submitted this request argued that the agreement unjustly prevents them from pursuing legal action against non-bankrupt organizations that ran local scouting programs.

On Feb. 16, 2024, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito temporarily halted the BSA’s $2.46 billion settlement.

On Feb. 22, 2024, the Supreme Court declined to halt the BSA’s $2.46 billion bankruptcy settlement.

On Feb. 24, 2024, HMM hosted a Town Hall meeting to update its clients regarding the status of the Boy Scout Bankruptcy proceeding. Learn more and watch the meeting recording here.

How the Boy Scouts of America Got Away with Sexual Abuse for So Long

The revelations of sexual abuse within the BSA have raised significant questions about how such misconduct could have persisted for decades without adequate intervention. Understanding the factors that enabled this abuse to go unchecked for so long is crucial in preventing similar tragedies in the future. Learn about some of these unsettling factors below.

>>> Related read: Hurley McKenna & Mertz Featured in “Scout’s Honor” Netflix Documentary for Work on Sexual Abuses Cases Against Boy Scouts of America

A Culture of Silence

One of the primary reasons the Boy Scouts of America was able to perpetuate a cycle of abuse for so long was the culture of silence that permeated the organization. Reports indicate that many victims were discouraged or even threatened into remaining silent about their experiences, fearing retaliation or disbelief from their peers and superiors. This culture of secrecy created an environment for predators to exploit vulnerable children without fear of consequences.

Lack of Accountability

Another contributing factor to the perpetuation of sexual abuse within the BSA was the lack of accountability at various levels of the organization. Reports of misconduct were often mishandled or ignored by local troop leaders, district officials, and national headquarters, allowing perpetrators to continue their abusive behavior with impunity. The BSA also had a secret list of sexual abuse cases, known as the Perversion Files, that were kept secret for more than a century.

Failure to Implement Safeguards

Despite the BSA’s stated commitment to youth protection, there were significant shortcomings in the implementation of safeguards to prevent sexual abuse. Critics argue that the organization failed to adequately screen and train adult volunteers, creating opportunities for individuals with nefarious intentions to gain easy access to children.

>>> Related read: Top 5 Takeaways From the “Scout’s Honor: The Secrets of the Boy Scouts of America” Netflix Documentary

Cultural Clout and Reputation

Finally, the Boy Scouts of America’s longstanding cultural clout and reputation as a venerable institution for youth development worked to its advantage in shielding it from scrutiny and accountability. Many parents and community members trusted the BSA implicitly, making it difficult for survivors to come forward and for advocates to challenge the status quo. The organization’s image as a bastion of moral values and character development also served to deflect attention from the systemic issues of abuse and misconduct lurking beneath the surface.

Get Justice as a Sexual Abuse Survivor

Like what happened within the Boy Scouts of America, experiencing sexual abuse by those in positions of power is not uncommon. Unfortunately, many people are victimized by leaders of organizations, churches, and more—and you’re not alone. Our team has fought relentlessly for survivors of sexual abuse, and we’d be honored to fight for you, too. Contact our team for a free consultation.

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