An attorney representing hundreds of men molested by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago said on Tuesday that victims will be ‘deprived’ of justice with the bankruptcy filing by the Boy Scouts of America. (Feb. 18) AP Domestic
Survivors of sexual abuse suffered through participation in Boy Scouts have until Nov. 16 to file a claim to be included in the lawsuit against the organization.
In anticipation of the thousands of claimants seeking financial restitution, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020.
Abused In Scouting, a consortium of four law firms representing more than 3,200 clients in all 50 states, reports seeking justice on behalf of 16 Vermonters, 10 men who were abused in Vermont.
Abused In Scouting is just one entity representing abuse victims in this case, and expects many more people to come forward with their stories. “This may be their last chance to obtain a measure of justice,” Andrew Goldfarb, a lead attorney with Abused In Scouting, said.
BSA sources of money — local impact
Of its $1 billion in assets, the national organization has said two-thirds of the money is restricted and beyond the reach of creditors, Goldfarb said. There is also hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance policies and 261 local councils, all of whom have assets over which the national organization presides.
Vermont’s Green Mountain Council believes it will be protected from the bankruptcy. “These suits do not impact the Scouting program in Vermont,” council CEO Edward McCollin said.
Goldfarb disagrees, saying councils have pushed a narrative they are exempt and assets are safe, but the “division between BSA and local councils is far blurrier than they promote.”
Next steps in the lawsuit
Bankruptcy court works differently than typical lawsuits. The organization has already agreed to pay claimants, but how much money and where it comes from is agreed upon through a mediation process.
In the next few days a proof of claim form is expected to be approved for survivor’s claim submissions. According to Goldfarb, after the Nov. 16 bar date that caps when claims can be filed, the court will appoint mediators to assess the claimant pool and decide how to the money will be allocated. Then, a proposed plan of reorganization for the Boy Scouts of America will be presented to the claimants for a vote.
Goldfarb expects mediation to begin in early 2021. He said the BSA’s position has been that it wants to resolve the suit quickly.
Many claims decades old, current protections
Many victims are reporting abuse that is decades old. “Today and for several years, the BSA has had one of, if not the best Youth Protection policies in place that has had a very positive impact on ensuring the safety of the Scouts,” McCollin of Vermont’s Green Mountain Council wrote in an email,
Those policies can be found at scouting.org/youth-safety.
Julianna Evans, with Abused In Scouting, praised Vermont’s open statute of limitations window which allows victims to take action “regardless of when and where the abuse occurred.”
Contact April Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.
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