FACTS

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently launched a new advertising campaign aimed at notifying Boy Scouts sexual abuse victims of a compensation case which will run through November 16th. Victims are encouraged to file claims regardless of the timeline of abuse. The BSA filed for bankruptcy in February amid hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits filed by former Scouts. BSA Chairman Jim Turley said their move was an effort to be able to “equitably compensate all victims of past abuse in our programs.” In July of this year, 21 new lawsuits were filed against the organization as well. It is reported that there have been over 12,000 Boy Scouts sexual abuse victims since the 1940s, and that 7,800 BSA leaders were involved in the abuse. The majority of cases are said to have occurred during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.

    RESPONSE

    It was noted that the “crisis parallels the one facing the Catholic Church,” of which many dioceses declared bankruptcy after thousands of sexual abuse allegations, as well. “This is much bigger than the bankruptcy filings involving the Catholic Church,” said Michael Pfau who runs a Seattle-based law firm.

    One former Scout claimed the bankruptcy was a way for the BSA “to escape responsibility for their actions,” something he noted was a “pattern for the organization.”

    “My experience with the Scouts destroyed my childhood, led to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, despair, four failed marriages, and a failed suicide attempt…If Boy Scouts’ leadership had followed the same values that every child in the organization swore an oath to, the Boy Scouts would not be under such a dark cloud today. I, along with thousands of other Scouts, deserved better from the Boy Scouts leadership we looked up to.”

    James Kretschmer in a first-person essay for Vox news site

    The BSA has filed a formal complaint against other private advertising campaigns, claiming that many law firms’ statements regarding the BSA compensation plan are false or misleading.

    “They’re essentially commercial parties who are taking phone calls and making legal determinations on the validity of claims, including whether they should be submitted against the debtor’s bankruptcy estate, based on their own compensation incentive.”

    Jessica Boelter, attorney for the Boy Scouts of America

    Opposing attorney Sunni Belville, the Managing Director of the Dispute Resolution & Restructuring Department at Brown Rudnick, argues that victims should have the right to hear from varying sources and be given the choice of attorney: “The debtors, and certainly the insurers, would prefer there not be a large and active body of sexual abuse creditors…Their goal here is to minimize the number of claims.”

    The BSA complaint is currently under review by federal judge Laurie Selber Silverstein.

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