Thousands file sexual abuse claims against Boy Scouts as deadline in bankruptcy looms

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By Kim Christensen

Faced with a looming deadline next month, thousands of accusers have submitted sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America in a bankruptcy that could cost the youth organization and its insurers hundreds of millions of dollars — or more.

The Scouts, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in February amid declining membership and an onslaught of new abuse lawsuits, will not say how many claims have been submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

But some plaintiffs’ lawyers say claims continue to pour in, predicting that tens of thousands will meet the Nov. 16 deadline. The massive response, they say, suggests a far broader abuse problem in Scouting than has been previously recognized and could drastically reshape the 110-year-old youth group.

“When this bankruptcy is finally resolved, the Boy Scouts will not be the same Boy Scouts of America,” said Paul Mones, a Los Angeles attorney who sits on a committee in the bankruptcy proceedings that represents victims.

The Chapter 11 action is intended to allow the Boy Scouts of America to reorganize and restructure its finances while continuing to operate. The same strategy for protecting assets against legal claims has been used by more than two dozen Catholic dioceses caught up in the church’s sex abuse scandal.

The Scouts’ bankruptcy promises “to dwarf anything we’ve seen in the Catholic Church,” said Timothy Kosnoff, an attorney with Abused in Scouting, a coalition of law firms that has aggressively marketed itself to abuse survivors through internet and television advertising.

His group has signed up more than 10,000 clients, including 1,000 in a single recent week, Kosnoff said, adding that he would not be surprised to see the total claims in the bankruptcy reach 50,000.

That number would eclipse previous official estimates. Last year, a researcher hired by the Scouts to analyze internal records from 1944 to 2016 said she had identified 12,254 victims.

“There are more claims in this bankruptcy than in all of the Catholic Church bankruptcies combined,” Kosnoff said.

The bankruptcy put an automatic hold on hundreds of pending lawsuits while a potential global settlement is negotiated. It also required new abuse claims to be handled in that venue rather than in state courts, where the Scouts faced a wave of new sex abuse lawsuits after several states, including California and New York, expanded legal options for childhood victims to sue.

Read more at: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-22/boy-scouts-sexual-abuse-claims-bankruptcy

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