When you visit the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) website, you are greeted with pictures of young boys with bright eyes and big smiles who are merrily engaging in adventurous and fun activities. If you continue scrolling on their homepage, about three-fourths of the way down, you will find a large colorful banner that reads “Survival Essentials.” The link takes you to a page where you can browse through featured products on first aid, navigation and lighting, and hydration. But what you will not find on the “Survival Essentials” page is an explanation on how scouts can survive sexual abuse.
On February 18, 2020, BSA announced that its national organization had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to equitably compensate thousands of survivors who were sexually abused during their time as scouts. The organization intends to use the bankruptcy process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that will provide redress to those that were abused.
BSA’s National Chair, Jim Turley, issued an open letter apologizing to scouts who endured sexual abuse during their time in the program. The letter provides, in part:
The BSA cannot undo what happened to you, but we are committed to supporting you and to doing everything in our power to prevent it from happening to others. It is a social and moral responsibility that I and the entire organization take extremely seriously. We believe that all victims should receive our support and compensation – and we have taken decisive action to make that possible.
It has been estimated that between 1944 and 2016, at least 7,800 suspected assailants abused 12,254 boys who were participating in BSA. Unfortunately, it has also been reported that those numbers are an extreme underestimation. BSA recently announced that it has restructured its safeguards, which includes mandatory youth protection training and background checks for all volunteers and staff. BSA also asserts that it has implemented policies that prohibit one-on-one interaction between youth and adults, and it requires all volunteers to report suspected abuse to law enforcement.
BSA is another powerful and prominent organization added to the running list of institutions—like Michigan State University, the Roman Catholic Church, and Pennsylvania State University—that has failed in protecting children from sexual abuse. While public apologies and remorse are considerate steps to take, no words or actions can erase the hurt and pain that survivors endure.
The qualified attorneys at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis, and Overholtz represent survivors who were abused during their time in the Boy Scouts of America. Our firm is committed to bringing justice for all survivors. If you would like more information, please contact us today.