“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” ~Boy Scout Law adopted June 1, 2015
For over a century, the Boy Scouts of America have been a staple for developing the character of America’s youth. In a recent turn of events, the non-profit organization has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Thus, revealing just how dire the organization’s financial instability is in the wake of current intentional tort lawsuits. The current plan is to use the bankruptcy process to create a trust providing compensation for the victims in the sexual assault and abuse lawsuits.
What Is the Sexual Assault/Abuse lawsuit Against The Boy Scouts Of America About?
Thanks to the Boy Scouts of America filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the courts have placed a deadline on filing a claim in the current lawsuit against the organization. Those victims or survivors that wish to file a claim within the lawsuit are required to do so by 5 p.m. on November 16, 2020.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Laurie Silverstein filed the deadline in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The date was agreed upon in a March 2020 hearing, where the Boy Scouts of America had proposed an 80-day window for survivors to come forward. The November date agreed upon increased that number to an almost six-month period.
During this time, the Boy Scouts of America are required to run an awareness campaign estimated at close to $7 million. The campaign is to encourage those victims to come forward about the abuse. The campaign also includes mail and email, as well as national television and print advertisements.
Bankruptcies narrow the window for victims to file a claim and force the claims to remain confidential, keeping the perpetrator’s names in the dark. With the window getting smaller, legal representatives across the country are working diligently to get their clients heard. Many of these cases are even decades old, which is not a surprise to many of the law firms handling victim claims.
The History of Sexual Assault/Abuse Within The Boy Scouts
The first lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for sexual abuse occurred in 2010 in Portland, Oregon. A former scout member was awarded a $19.9 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America after filing a lawsuit for being sexually abused by his scout leader in the mid-1980s.
Since that time, more former scout members have spoken up about the sexual assault and abuse they encountered during their time in the Boy Scouts of America. The organization hired a child abuse expert in January 2020 to analyze the “Perversion Files.” These files are found within the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America. They contain the names of those men accused of preying on boys.
The expert found 12,254 boys reported experiencing sexual abuse by the hands of at least 7,800 assailants between the years of 1944 and 2016. Other independent research is done on this topic and considers the expert’s calculation to be an underestimation. The actual number of boys affected by the sexual abuse from the Boy Scouts of America may never be known.
Why Are Victims Beginning To Come Forward?
Sexual assault and abuse cases are a sensitive subject for a victim to talk about. Statistically, men are less likely to discuss or come forward about sexual abuse than a female. The claims that are being filed exceed the numbers that were initially filed within the “Perversion Files.” It isn’t a surprise to any law firm that the numbers are growing.
Victims hide their trauma, sometimes for decades, for the following reasons:
- Shame – One of the most common feelings and reactions that any sexually violated victim feels. Shame often causes victims to blame themselves for the misconduct of the assailant.
- Fear – In an organization like the Boy Scouts of America, victims could easily fear the consequences of coming forward about the assault or abuse. They may be deemed a trouble maker or even that they won’t be believed.
- Self-esteem – Most of the sexual assailants are those who prey on someone smaller or more vulnerable than they are. When acts of sexual abuse or assault are involved, the victim is often left with little to no self-esteem, making them believe they are at fault.
- Avoidance – Many victims will pretend like the incident never happened. They will mentally block out every detail to survive, but unfortunately, this often leads to other problems in their lifetime.
Many of the victims who have come forward have spoken about how the experience has affected them. These effects have followed them, even into their adult lives. Boys who experience these types of sexual assault and abuse are often at higher risk for developing severe mental health problems.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Suicidal thoughts, or attempts
- Underachievement in work or school
- Problems with intimate relationships (many of the victims cite many failed marriages as a result)
Now that more and more victims are coming forward, those who were quiet can have the confidence to come forward and let their voices be heard.
Who Is Eligible To File A Claim Against The Boy Scouts of America?
The intentional tort claim process is open to anyone who experienced sexual assault or abuse within the Boy Scouts of America organization. The recommendation is that you file a claim before the deadline, no matter the type of abuse or when it occurred. Specifically, those instructed to file claims are survivors who:
- Have filed lawsuits or claims against the Boy Scouts of America
- Called into the Scouts First Hotline, or have reported a claim of abuse
- Have never filed a lawsuit or entered a settlement
- Never reported the abuse that took place
- Have already received settlement agreements from the Boy Scouts of America, but believe they are entitled to additional compensation
- Experienced abuse within the Boy Scouts of America, regardless of the statute of limitations
How Do I File A Claim Against The Boy Scouts of America?
To file a claim against the Boy Scouts of America, victims are required to fill out a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim form. Those victims who experienced other types of abuse, including physical, emotional, bullying, or hazing, are required to file a General Proof of Claim form. The abuse is not limited between just a scout and a member of the organization in an authority position. The abuse could have occurred between two scouts, committed by an assistant scoutmaster, camp directors, camp employees, volunteers, or instructors.
Is There A Statute of Limitations in California?
The statute of limitations will be considered during the evaluation of the claims. Some states have enacted “look-back” windows in cases like these, lifting restrictions. The “look-back” window is not a guarantee. However, it is still recommended that anyone who was a victim due to the Boy Scouts of America should file their claim, no matter how long ago.
Currently, the statute of limitations for cases of childhood sexual abuse in the state of California is within eight years of the date that the victim reaches the age of maturity. Additionally, a period of three years of the date that the victim discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) psychological injuries caused after the age of maturity was caused by sexual abuse.
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer?
Despite the claims by local media that claim you do not need a lawyer to file a claim in the lawsuit, it is in your best interest if you do. When filling your claims forms, you should do it with the help of an experienced lawyer by your side. Your legal counsel can help you fill the forms out accurately and help you if you have any questions.
Personal injury lawyers are not strangers to handling sensitive cases such as this. Understandably so, explaining the sexual assault or abuse you encountered within the Boy Scouts of America might not be something you have shared with too many people. Rest assured that legal counsel in these matters only wants to help you get the closure and compensation you deserve.
TorkLaw Can Help With Your Lawsuit Against Boy Scouts Of America
Although we cannot say that we know what you went through at the hands of someone within the Boy Scouts of America, we do sympathize with your case. Our experienced legal staff wants to help you file your claim. We want to help you receive closure and compensation for the losses and damages you have experienced over the years due to the sexual assault or abuse you survived.