Sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America have now surpassed 88,000, according to lawyers who represent victims who’ve filed claims against the organization.
Christopher Hurley, the managing partner with a law firm representing 4,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse who say they were victimized while participating in the Boy Scouts, said in a statement to The Christian Post that there are over 88,500 victims that have come forward as of Monday, the deadline the bankruptcy court set for such claims.
“We knew the problem was severe and we knew it had been neglected by the Boy Scout organization for too long. But with 88,500 victims, the breadth and depth of the problem now feels overwhelming,” he said. “I have represented tragically injured people for 36 years but the number of broken, lonely men I have come to know over the last six months has had a profound impact on me personally.”
Hurley is the managing partner with Hurley McKenna and Mertz, P.C., a Chicago law firm representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
"I admire their courage for coming forward and their willingness to share their pain so that what happened to them may never happen to another child,” he added.
Other lawyers told The New York Times that over 82,000 abuse claims were made against the group as of late Sunday and that the number of sexual abuse cases filed against BSA far exceeds the number of cases linked to abuse claims in the Roman Catholic Church.
“I knew there were a lot of cases,” said Paul Mones, an attorney who has been working on BSA cases for approximately 20 years.
“I never contemplated it would be a number close to this,” noting that with the prevalence of the abuse the number may represent a mere fraction of victims.
The accusers range in age from 8 to 93.
The BSA has filed for bankruptcy but hopes to reemerge anew one day.
According to its bankruptcy filing, the organization founded in 1910 reportedly has over $1 billion in assets, much of it in real estate.
“The response we have seen from survivors has been gut-wrenching,” the BSA said in the statement, noting that it was “devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting.”
“We are deeply sorry.”
Earlier this year, the BSA filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid the torrent of allegations, a move some argue was to veil their culpability.
"They’re going into bankruptcy not because they don’t have the money. They’re going into bankruptcy to hide … a Mount Everest in dirty secrets," said Tim Kosnoff, a lawyer who has tried thousands of child abuse cases, in an interview with USA Today earlier this year.
Abused in Scouting, a coalition of legal advocates that represents approximately 10,000 claimants that first sued the group in January, had urged all those with claims to file before the court-mandated cut-off date.
"You will forever lose your right to hold that group accountable once they exit the bankruptcy process,” AIS attorney Andrew Van Arsdale said, according to ABC affiliate WSBC-5.
From 2017 to 2019, the BSA said it has paid $150 million in settlements and legal costs.
The group has been dealing with litigation since 2010 when a significant case yielded $19.9 million in damages, the largest ever amount awarded to an individual claimant.
As a result of that case, several thousands of confidential documents that became known as the "perversion files" were released. Those documents contained the names of volunteers that had been banned from serving with the organization and how the BSA had documented both suspected and known abusers while failing to notify the authorities, parents and community about the scope of the problem.
BSA presently has around 2.2 million members, a figure that has declined from its highest number of approximately 5 million in the 1970s.