A recent report by the New York Times details some of the sex abuse claims filed against the Boy Scouts of America. As part of the organization’s bankruptcy proceedings, the organization has encouraged victims of sexual abuse to file claims against it, and will settle an undetermined amount of these claims via a compensation fund of an undetermined size. More than 80,000 claims were filed by a November deadline, though survivors in states like New York may yet be able to file claims against local chapters of the Boy Scouts.
The claims that have been filed so far involve alleged conduct in ever state, as well as alleged cases in military bases overseas, such as in Japan and Germany. According to theTimes, “the accusers range in age from 8 to 93,” and while a majority of men, some claimants are women. As the Times explains, the Boy Scouts of America was established in 1910 and received a congressional charter in 1916. It is currently attempting to reorganize through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While it had around 5 million members in the 1970s, it currently has about 2.2 million members.
Abuse has been a problem throughout the Boy Scouts’ history, as the Times describes, at one point storing “files on hundreds of ‘degenerates’ who had served as scout leaders.” The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in connection to a 2010 jury verdict that the Boy Scouts must release those records. Recent state laws affording survivors of decades-old abuse to pursue legal claims even if the statutes of limitations had passed resulted in “a stream of new lawsuits” against organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church.
The Times report details one case involving a Staten Island man who joined the Boy Scouts in 1978, when he was 11, and was groomed and later abused for three years by his scoutmaster, a police officer. The officer, Bill Fox, “was eventually convicted of abusing three boys and later died in prison.”
The Staten Island man told the Times he spoke with attorneys about a possible claim “years ago,” and was informed that the statute of limitations had passed. When New York passed a law allowing survivors to file claims about older allegations, he was informed he “might now have a case,” and filed one in connection to the bankruptcy proceeding. He told the Times he’s not doing it for the financial compensation, but because he hopes “a window into the magnitude of the problem and the accountability coming in the bankruptcy process could help force lasting change in the Boy Scouts.”
More information about the claims against the Boy Scouts is available via the New York Times report here.
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