Boy Scouts Files for Bankruptcy

Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy on February 18th.  Photo courtesy of Christopher Millette/Erie Times-New.

Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy on February 18th. Photo courtesy of Christopher Millette/Erie Times-New.

Ashley Kim, Staff Writer

   The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for bankruptcy on February 18th after dealing with hundreds of lawsuits involving sexual abuse allegations.  The organization believes that over the course of 72 years, more than 7,000 of its former leaders sexually abused more than 12,000 children.

   In an open letter to victims, National Chair Jim Turley wrote, “On behalf of myself and the entire Scouting community: I am sorry. I am devastated that there were times in the past when we failed the very children we were supposed to protect.”

   However, the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy has sparked outrage from sexual abuse victims.  Cases that would have been dealt with in a matter of months are now delayed, and may even remain legally suspended for what could be years.  Attorney Paul Mones, representing several sexual abuse victims, said that BSA’s bankruptcy was a “tragedy.”

   The Boy Scouts of America has been protected from sexual abuse allegations by deadlines for legal claims.  However, high-profile sexual abuse cases involving USA Gymnastics and the Catholic Church have prompted states to extend the legal time limit for a victim to come forward with a lawsuit.  This extension gave rise to a wave of lawsuits.

   BSA’s bankruptcy will not disrupt most local programs, which are legally independent from the organization.  Former boy scout Arnav Gumdala (10) added, “Since most Boy Scout troops are mainly composed of volunteers and donations, the program won’t shut down.  However, some of our more expensive backpacking trips and summer camps will probably disappear.”

   BSA’s bankruptcy is another instance in a series of high-profile sexual abuse cases.  Movements like #MeToo and the emerging prominence of allegations have inspired more victims to come forward.  In addition, many hope that these cases will serve as a warning to organizations.

   Boy Scout Colin Thekkinedath (10) said, “I personally hope that going forward adults and leaders are interviewed before partaking in any activities with scouts from the parent Scouts BSA organization to prevent mishaps like these [from] happening.”

   BSA has said that it intends to compensate victims, but so far, it’s unclear when or how that will take place.Ashley Kim