Boy Scouts of America Chairman Writes Open Letter as the Organization Files for Bankruptcy Following Sex Abuse Scandal

Boy Scouts of America is looking to file for bankruptcy as a result of the non-profit being flooded with multiple sexual abuse claims and lawsuits. According to The New York Times, by filing for Chapter 11 protection, the Boy Scouts of America will be allowed to keep operating “while it grapples with questions about the future of the century-old Scouting movement.”

Because the filing was made by the national organization, it does not currently implicate local chapters of the non-profit or the programs those chapters are responsible for. As of February 18, there have been “thousands” of claims from former scouts who say they were sexually abused while members of the organization.

Boy Scouts of America File for Bankruptcy

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As The New York Times reports, filing for bankruptcy will likely freeze the lawsuits and set a deadline for new claims. However, as the group’s national chairman Jim Turley explained in an open letter, their plan of action is not their way of “dodging responsibility for compensating them,” but instead this will allow them to create a “victim’s compensation trust, rather than piecemeal in lawsuit after lawsuit.”

The decision to file also comes after the non-profit and some of the victim’s lawyers attempted to reach a settlement but could not come to an agreement. In his open letter, Turley began:

Boy Scouts Files for Bankruptcy Following Sex Abuse Scandal

“As a father, a former Scout, and the National Chair of the Boy Scouts of America, I am truly heartbroken that you were harmed during your time in Scouting and that you carry unfathomable pain. I am outraged that individuals took advantage of our programs to commit these heinous acts. I am also outraged that there were times when volunteers and employees ignored our procedures or forgave transgressions that are unforgivable. In some cases, this led to tragic acts of abuse. While those instances were limited, they mean we didn’t do enough to protect the children in our care – to protect you. 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.”

Then, in his own words, Turley explained the organization’s decision to initiate “a voluntary financial restructuring.” He continued saying that they believe “all victims should receive our support and compensation” and this was the way they could make that happen.

“Specifically, the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America has initiated a voluntary financial restructuring to ensure we can equitably compensate all victims of past abuse in our programs, through a proposed Victim’s Compensation Trust. I encourage you, and all victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this Trust. We will provide clear notices about how to do so.”

Boy Scouts Files for Bankruptcy Following Sex Abuse Scandal

Turley went on to write that he wants those who have been hurt to know “that we believe you, we believe in compensating you, and we have programs in place to pay for counseling for you and your family by a provider of your choice.”

The letter also states that they believe the youth safety measures that are currently in place “are the strongest and most effective policies found in any youth-serving organization.” He then went on to voice his regret for not always having those measures in place.

It’s unclear exactly what changes have been made that weren’t present in years past.

Turley concluded, “the abuse you suffered weighs on us all every day. But your courage also motivates us to do more for the children we are entrusted to protect. We will do better – for you, for kids today, and for kids tomorrow.”

Boy Scouts Files for Bankruptcy Following Sex Abuse Scandal
Amy Kerkemeyer /

However, despite filing for bankruptcy, Tim Kosnoff, a lawyer for an Abused in Scouting group, told The New York Times that it’s still going to be “difficult to impossible” for the Boy Scouts of America to continue with their operation.

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As Kosnoff explained, “It would require changing into something people wouldn’t recognize as scouting,” given that boy scouts are known for their remote trips to learn survival skills. As the lawyer told The New York Times victims that have come forward ranged in ages 8 to 93.

Kosnoff also remarked that due to the organization’s decision to file for bankruptcy, “if you’ve ever considered coming forward, now is the time.” Since its resurrection 110 years ago, over 130 million Americans have participated in the Boy Scouts. Sadly, as The New York Times reports, in an article that was written in 1935, there were already hundreds of files classifying former leaders as “degenerates” or “perpetrators.”

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