The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Tuesday after decades of sexual abuse claims within one of the country’s largest youth organizations.
By going to bankruptcy court, the Scouts can put those lawsuits on hold for now. But they could ultimately be forced to sell off some of their vast property holdings, including campgrounds and hiking trails, to raise money for a compensation fund that could surpass $1 billion.
According to published reports, there were nearly 2,000 reported cases of abuse within the Boy Scouts prior to 1994, and at least one abuse incident as recent as 2006. The high risk of volunteer youth organizations has been recognized, and in 1988, the BSA created a sex abuse education and prevention program in the 1980s called the Youth Protection program to help address the problem.
In 2010, a jury ordered that the Scouts pay $18.5 million to a Scout who was abused in the 1980s—it was the largest punitive damages award to a single plaintiff in a child abuse case in the US.
The Boy Scouts of America is the largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with about 2.3 million youth participants and about one million adult volunteers. The BSA was founded in 1910, and since then, about 110 million Americans participated in BSA programs at some time in their lives. BSA is part of the international Scout Movement and became a founding member organization of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.