The scope of the sexual abuse scourge that has gripped the Boy Scouts for decades has recently become more widely known as journalists have pushed the information out into the public realm. The number of abusers and their victims is plain staggering. The fallout from this scandal will affect the Boy Scouts for years to come if the organization is even able to survive. Although the law provides recourse for abuse victims and their families, the organization has been defending scores of lawsuits seeking to hold them responsible for the harm suffered by the victims. The Boy Scouts have already been ordered to pay over $20 million by a jury, with many more verdicts and settlements likely to follow.
Sexual abuse within the Boy Scouts has been documented as far back as a century ago. In fact, it is the organization themselves who have done much of the documenting. While this has purportedly been done to ensure that certain people are unable to work with the Boy Scouts, it has also shown how they have not taken vigilant action to root out and address the problem. These files document the fact that the organization did not often take steps to report accused molesters, nor did they inform families of any possible improprieties.
Former Boy Scouts are Coming Forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations
While the Boy Scouts have taken steps to reduce incidents of sexual abuse in recent years, the problem for the organization is past conduct. There are over 8,000 suspected abusers who have either been a part of the Boy Scouts or have attempted to gain entry into the organization since 1944 based on the organization’s own files. Since an abuser is usually known for having more than one victim, the number of possible victims is staggering. The Boy Scouts’ estimate of approximately 12,000 victims in that time span is likely understated. These victims span 48 states, and some have been as old as 97 years old when they reported the abuse. What is even more ominous for the Boy Scouts is that many recent verdicts and settlements have involved abusers that were not in the Boy Scouts’ files.
As the scope of the abuse becomes clear, the legal and financial predicaments facing the Boy Scouts begin to come into view. There has been speculation that the Boy Scouts may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in light of the massive litigation that they face. One short and long-term issue that threatens their future is that states are passing laws to lengthen their statutes of limitations. This will give victims more time to file suit against the organization. Victims will now have the possibility of being able to file lawsuits well into their adult years.
The Organization Failed to Protect Their Scouts
The impetus for the recent wave of lawsuits has been a report in the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper examined the Boy Scouts’ files and called for public attention to the depth of the problem. Since then, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed. Plaintiffs have used the news report to argue that the Boy Scouts’ actions are even worse because they knew about the issue, but failed to take action. In some cases, the Boy Scouts either attempted to take action on their own without contacting authorities or attempted to cover-up the crimes. Another factor influencing the wave of recent lawsuits was a $20 million plus verdict against the Boy Scouts assessed by an Oregon jury in 2010. This has been part of a larger awareness of sex abuse at large institutions such as the Catholic Church and public universities.
For the Boy Scouts, this is now a perilous time. Plaintiff’s attorneys have been aggressively locating victims and helping them achieve some measure of justice. For now, the Boy Scouts have a balance sheet that shows $1 billion in assets, but the extent of their liability could far exceed that. This has led to talk of a preemptive bankruptcy filing as the liability may dwarf the assets. In that event, those who have filed claims against the Boy Scouts would become a creditor to the organization. The lawyers at KBA Attorneys have experience in helping victims not only get settlements and awards but also to collect on these obligations.
Of course, sexual abuse does provide victims with an actionable claim. As opposed to suing the actual abuser, the victim will want to focus on the organization which either employed or sanctioned the abuser. This is because the backing organization will have the assets out of which a large settlement or jury verdict will be paid. While victims may be able to get a large verdict against the actual abuser, it is more likely than not that they will never be able to pay the verdict in its entirety. A competent attorney should know the most advantageous defendant that should be sued in each case. The cause of the action would be that the Boy Scouts failed to properly screen the people affiliated with the organization and did not take proper action to root out known abusers. These cases are similar to the onslaught of action that the Catholic Church has been facing because of its abuse scandal.
Contact our Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Whether you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse by anyone associated with the Boy Scouts, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Attorneys will need to be able to tactfully handle what is most assuredly traumatic litigation while vigorously vindicating your legal rights. The lawyers at KBA Attorneys have represented sexual abuse victims and helped them fight to achieve the justice that they deserve. They have a long history of aggressively pursuing large organizations for the settlements that victims of their misconduct deserve.
- Kim Christensen. “The stunning toll of Boy Scout sex abuse: More than 12,200 reported victims”, Neighbor Newspapers, https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/extra/news/the-stunning-toll-of-boy-scout-sex-abuse-more-than/article_7d6d66dc-af3d-5bba-a9b3-7c08a869e9de.html. Accessed May 20, 2019.