The Boy Scouts of America, a fixture in the American tradition of outdoor education for more than a century, filed for bankruptcy this morning in response to the hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits that have forced the 110-year-old organization to the brink of collapse.
A change in Washington, D.C.’s statute of limitations for certain sex crimes has allowed lawyers to seek settlements for thousands for former scouts who claim they were abused years ago by adult leaders in the organization. The BSA’s bankruptcy filing in Wilmington, Delaware, will delay the resolution of those cases, a strategy comparable to that of more than 20 Catholic dioceses across the U.S. facing similar charges of sexual abuse of minors.
The BSA has declined to comment directly on the announcement, though an official press statement outlines what the organization is calling “critical points” in the development:
“Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come. Local Councils are not filing for bankruptcy as they are legally separate and distinct organizations. The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We issued an Open Letter to Victims which is online now and will run as a full-page ad in USA Today on Wednesday, February 19. The BSA partnered with 1in6, a trusted national resource for male survivors, so that victims of abuse are able to anonymously access vital support from trained advocates when and how they need it. Scouting is safer now than ever before: approximately 90% of pending and asserted abuse claims against the BSA relate to abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago.”