The Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Facing mounting legal costs from defending itself against
lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of boys, the venerable nonprofit
sought Chapter 11 protection in a court filing early Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement
that the filing had "two key objectives: equitably compensate
victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and
continue carrying out its mission for years to come. The BSA
intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims
Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to
The Boy Scouts said that only the national organization had
filed for Chapter 11 and that local councils that provide
programming and other services are financially independent.
"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, BSA's president and chief executive
officer, said in a statement Tuesday.
"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," he said.
Michael Pfau, whose Seattle-based law firm, Pfau, Cochran,
Veretis and Amala, represents close to 300 people who say they
were abused as Scouts in 30-plus states, called the filing
"It will be far larger in terms of the numbers of victims and
far more complicated than any of the bankruptcies we've seen so
far involving the Catholic Church," Pfau said.
Those bankruptcies involved individual dioceses or archdioceses,
Pfau said, while "this involves victims from all 50 states and
several U.S. territories."
"You're looking at thousands of abuse survivors making claims,"
he said. "This is much bigger than the bankruptcy filings
involving the Catholic Church."
In December 2018, the BSA telegraphed that it might seek this
remedy when it hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP and
announced that it was "working with experts to explore all
options available to ensure that the local and national
programming of the Boy Scouts of America continues
Now that the Texas-based organization has filed for bankruptcy
protection, the U.S. Trustees Office will pick a creditors
committee that will include a number of abuse victims, Pfau
said. The committee, in turn, will hire a bankruptcy law firm
that will represent the interests of creditors in negotiations
with the BSA.
The various abuse cases against the BSA that have been filed in
state courts will be halted and transferred to federal
bankruptcy court for adjudication, Pfau said.
For the abuse victims, the BSA's bankruptcy filing has pros and
cons, Pfau said.
"The pro is that is a far shorter process than going through a
trial and the appeals process in state court," he said. "The
bankruptcy procedure will probably take anywhere from 18 months
to two years from start to finish.
"But the cons are significant," Pfau added. "Each individual
loses his opportunity for a jury trial in state court, which is
really the most powerful weapon an abuse victim has. One of the
primary reasons the BSA filed for bankruptcy is to avoid jury
"Juries don't like fact patterns where children are abused by
trusted leaders," Pfau said. "An entity like the Boy Scouts has
to consider their exposure."
Like the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts "have a horrible,
sordid history of child abuse in the ranks," Pfau said. "They
fought very, very aggressively to keep the extent of the abuse
from the public. Now they're facing a wave of legislative reform
that is sweeping across the country, with states revising their
statutes of limitations to allow victims to sue."
So for the BSA, seeking bankruptcy protection is really the only
option if it hopes to survive.
"It's a real day of reckoning for the Boy Scouts," Pfau said.
The organization said Tuesday that Scouting is safer than it's
ever been, saying "approximately 90% of pending and asserted
abuse claims against the BSA relate to abuse that occurred more
than 30 years ago."
Founded in 1910 and long considered a bastion of traditional
values, the BSA reported in 2016 that it has more than 1.26
million Cub Scouts, nearly 830,000 Boy Scouts and about 960,000
It was destroyed by less than 1,000 homosexual pedophiles.