The Boy Scouts of America said Tuesday that the national organization has filed for bankruptcy protection in a bid to ensure equitable compensation for thousands of sexual abuse victims who were harmed while participating in their programs and ensure they can continue to carry out their mission for years to come.
The BSA also noted as a part of the Chapter 11 process, it has created a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” Roger Mosby, the organization’s president and chief executive officer, noted in a statement. “While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process — with the proposed Trust structure — will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.”
More than 12,000 Boy Scout members have been victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of 7,819 allegedly sexually abusive troop leaders and volunteers, according to an analysis of long-held records in the organization known as the “perversion files.”
The perversion files, which have previously been highlighted, show thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse that have been removed from the Boy Scouts of America over the years. The files were kept private at the BSA headquarters.
Jim Turley, national chair of the BSA, urged victims in an open letter to come forward.
“The BSA cannot undo what happened to you, but we are committed to supporting you and to doing everything in our power to prevent it from happening to others. It is a social and moral responsibility that I and the entire organization take extremely seriously. We believe that all victims should receive our support and compensation — and we have taken decisive action to make that possible,” Turley wrote encouraging victims to take advantage of the Trust set up to help them.
“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. I want you 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,” he added.
Founded in 1910, the BSA is composed of nearly 2.2 million youth members between the ages of 5 and 21 and approximately 800,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories.
In recent years, however, the BSA has courted controversy, lawsuits, and loss of membership for admitting openly gay scouts in 2013, then openly gay leaders in 2015, and then including the participation of girls in 2017.
The organization noted in their announcement Tuesday that their changes now also include some of the strongest, expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization, including mandatory youth protection training and background checks for all volunteers and staff, as well as policies that prohibit one-on-one interaction between youth and adults and require all volunteers and staff to report any suspected abuse to law enforcement.
The BSA’s multilayered safeguards, their commitment to support victims, as well as their efforts to be part of the broader solution to child abuse is also published at www.scouting.org/youth-safety.
Reacting to the news Tuesday, Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, a Christian boys’ mentoring and discipleship movement, said he was “deeply saddened” by the situation.
“We are deeply saddened that the Boy Scouts of America, a long-standing American institution, is in this unfortunate situation,” Hancock said in a statement to The Christian Post.
“Trail Life USA (www.TrailLifeUSA.org), a Christian boys’ mentoring and discipleship movement, wants to reinforce its commitment to providing a safe experience for all boys, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Our philosophy is derived from the Bible and set in the context of outdoor adventure. Boys are challenged to grow in character, understand their purpose, serve their community, and develop life-long leadership skills,” he continued.
“Although no program can guarantee total protection, we believe Trail Life USA’s child protection policy is very comprehensive,” he added. "Trail Life USA has taken strong steps to ensure the risk of abuse in our program is minimized. All our adult leaders undergo regular background checks, complete youth protection training, and adhere to strict guidelines designed to reduce the potential for abuse.”