Tens of thousands of people who say they were sexually abused as Boy Scouts brought charges against the Boy Scouts of America reached a settlement of $ 850 million, the largest in a child sexual abuse case in the history of the United States.
More than 84,000 people are part of the lawsuit against the 110-year-old organization, which has been plagued with allegations of abuse by volunteers and leaders since the 1960s. Last year, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as they faced increasing legal fees to defend against allegations of sexual abuse against boys.
Ken Rothweiler, a lawyer with Eisenberg Rothweiler in Philadelphia who represents the largest group of claimants – more than 16,800 people – says this settlement is a start. Insurance rights for the past 40 years will be placed in a trust that the survivor group will control and potentially add billions more to victims.
“I am happy that the BSA and its local councils have stepped up to be the first to compensate survivors,” Rothweiler said in a statement Thursday. “We will now negotiate with insurers and sponsoring and charter organizations that have billions of dollars in legal exposure, a substantial portion of which is needed to fairly compensate survivors. “
Rothweiler says the majority of his clients are between the ages of 60 and 70 and the abuse happened when they were teenagers.
The settlement was detailed in court documents filed Thursday.
The Boy Scouts called the settlement an important milestone.
“This agreement will help local councils make their contributions to the Trust without further draining their assets, and allow them to move forward with the national organization towards exiting bankruptcy,” the group said in a statement Thursday.
“There is still a long way to go to get court approval to get survivors to vote for the modified BSA reorganization plan. However, with this encouraging and meaningful step forward, BSA is wholeheartedly committed to working for a global resolution. Our intention is to seek confirmation of the plan this summer and come out of bankruptcy at the end of this year. “
Last year, when the organization filed for bankruptcy, a spokesperson for the organization said it had two key goals: “to fairly compensate victims who were injured during their stay in the scouting and continue to carry out its mission for years to come.
“We are devastated by the number of lives affected by past abuses in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward,” the Boy Scouts previously said. “We are heartbroken that we cannot mend their pain. “
The Boy Scout leadership insisted that Scouting “is safer than ever” and 90 percent of complaints against the organization “took place over 30 years ago”.
“From mandatory youth protection training and background checks of all volunteers and staff to policies prohibiting one-on-one interactions between youth and adults and requiring that any suspected abuse be reported to law enforcement,” our volunteers and staff take youth protection very seriously. and do their part to help keep children safe, ”they wrote in a statement to the“ Scouting Family ”last year.