Attorneys for both the Boy Scouts of America and survivors of sexual abuse have reached a compromise in setting a bar date for claims to be submitted to the bankruptcy court. Attorneys for survivors of Boy Scout sexual abuse had argued for a December 31 deadline while Boy Scouts of America attorneys wanted a deadline of October 6, 2020.
Since most survivors of childhood sexual abuse are incapable of coming forward until well into their adulthood, if ever, the short filing period adds anxiety and stress for those who’ve suffered childhood sexual abuse in Scouting.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020 due to falling enrollment in their programs and the negative publicity generated by decades of Boy Scout sexual abuse cases across the country.
The November deadline, while short, makes it imperative for all survivors to come forward now and secure legal representation so that they may seek some justice in the bankruptcy proceedings. Once the deadline is passed, survivors will be forever barred from seeking compensation for their suffering.
More than 12,000 boys have been molested by 7,800 abusers since the 1920s, according to Boy Scout files revealed in court papers. Most of the more recent cases date to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, before the Boy Scouts adopted mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training and protocols for all staff and volunteers. However, these training and protocols, such as the “two deep rule” did not stem the tide of abuse as witnessed by the number of cases dating from the late 1980’s and 1990’s.
In conjunction with the bankruptcy case, the Boy Scouts obtained an injunction halting lawsuits against the organization’s 261 local councils as “related parties.” The local councils, which run day-to-day operations for local troops, are not listed as debtors in the bankruptcy and are considered by the Boy Scouts to be legally separate entities. Attorneys for abuse victims have nevertheless made clear that they will try to go after campsites and other properties owned by the local councils to contribute to the fund for victims.
Now that the filing deadline is set, it is important for all survivors to muster their courage and come forward. It is difficult and will be difficult but it may very well be an important part of the healing process. Those of us who have been fighting for abuse survivor rights in Boy Scout and priest abuse cases for decades know too well the pain and anxiety caused by this childhood trauma. This is why the committee supporting survivors worked hard to extend the deadline beyond an October date.
“At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and preoccupied with basic survival, sexual abuse survivors need and are entitled to a reasonable period of time after they receive notice from the bankruptcy Court to reflect seriously and make a decision whether to file a claim in this case,” attorneys for the victims committee wrote in a court filing.
If you or a loved one were sexually abused by a Scout, please feel free to contact Attorney Joe Saunders for a free and confidential consultation. We will listen to you and your story and treat you with the dignity and compassion you deserve.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.