A recent article by USA Today reports that in early March, the Boy Scouts of America proposed to contribute $220 million into a trust that would “compensate tens of thousands of former members who say they were abused during their time as scouts,” a sum that may be complemented by a contribution of $300 million from the organization’s local councils. This total of $520 million—pending a commitment from local councils—would constitute a “fraction” of the Boy Scouts of America’s total value, which USA Today estimates at about $3.7 billion.
As USA Today notes, the Boy Scouts are in the midst of a reorganization process as part of the organization’s bankruptcy proceedings. When it filed for bankruptcy over a year ago, the Boy Scouts reported 275 child sex abuse lawsuits against it, estimating “another 1,400 potential claims.” As of a November deadline set by the bankruptcy court in Delaware, there are now almost 95,000 claims against the Boy Scouts, which does not include potential claims against local councils. The Boy Scouts has said that it requires a budget of about $75 to maintain its operations, but it will contribute “all unrestricted cash and investments above” that to the settlement fund, as well as its art collection, and “its oil and gas interests, consisting of more than 1,000 properties in 17 states.”
A $520 million settlement fund distributed among the almost 95,000 claimants would mean each claimant receives about $6,000, according to USA Today, if they are all distributed equally. A group representing claimants against the Boy Scouts, the Torts Claimant Committee, has pressed back against the organization’s plan. In a statement, it said: “As a fiduciary to all sexual abuse survivors, the TCC has thoroughly investigated the assets and liabilities of the BSA and its local councils and concluded that the BSA’s reorganization plan woefully fails to adequately compensate sexual abuse survivors or provide any enhanced systematic protections for future generations of Scouts.” One abuse claimant told USA Today that the plan amounted to “trying to get a discount on child abuse.”
The process of getting a settlement plan approved will be complex, USA Today notes, because “Much about Boy Scout’s finances remains unknown,” including the value of local councils’ assets. Additionally, the Boy Scouts have proposed that it request local councils to contribute at least $300 million to the fund. It has asked that this commitment be met with a “complete and permanent prohibition on any lawsuits” against the organization. USA Today reports that claimants are opposed to this condition, with an attorney for 1,000 claimants saying in a statement that the Boy Scouts is attempting to “force abuse survivors to give up their claims for close to nothing.”
More information on the Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy proceedings is available via USA Today.