THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED
NORTH COUNTY — In an apparent response to the extension of the statute of limitations of sexual assault by several states, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection late Monday, Feb 17. A statement issued by the organization said that local chapters should not be effect local chapters providing that local troops and programs are financially independent.
Los Padres Council has not filed for bankruptcy. Meetings and activities, district and council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects are taking place as usual. In short, there should be no change to the local Scouting experience, according to a statement issued by Carlos Cortez, Los Padres Council Scout Executive. The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is the only entity involved in the Chapter 11 filing. Los Padres Council – which provides programming, financial, facility and administrative support to local units and individual Scouts in our area – is separate and distinct from the national organization. Our camps, properties, and all local contributions are controlled by our council.
The decision comes after a wave of legislative reform adding to the rights of survivors of sexual abuse. Previous California law held put an age limit of 26-years-old on when a victim could find allegations on sexual abuse. The law allows for three years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual abuse to file charges.
Effective in January 2020, the California Assembly Bill 218 (Gonzales) extended statute of limitations age to 22 years past the age of majority. The age of majority for most states is 18-years-old. Also, under the new law, a person has a right to file charges with five years of reasonable discovery of psychological injury or illness caused by sexual assault.
The BSA’s filing of Chapter 11 is direct result of hundreds of ongoing lawsuits for sexual misconduct with minors. The filing seeks to achieve two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come, according to a statement issued by the organization.
Critics say that the filing blocks an individual’s right to their day in courts and lumps them with other debt collectors. Chapter 11 stops ongoing lawsuits while settlements are negotiated and keeps new claims from being handled in the courts.
The Scouts’ bankruptcy is not likely to affect local Scouting activities but will halt ongoing lawsuits while settlements are negotiated. It also will require new abuse claims to be handled in that venue rather than in state courts.
According to CNN, Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney whose firm represents 300 alleged victims across the country, said the bankruptcy claims process will be decidedly different for those suffering due to the Boy Scouts of America’s alleged inaction.
“They won’t have to give depositions involving their life history. Their lives won’t be scrutinized, but they lose their right to a jury trial. For a lot of abuse survivors, telling their story in a court of law and forcing the organizations to defend their actions can be cathartic. That won’t happen with a bankruptcy,” Pfau told CNN.
Previously, Roger Mosby, President and Chief Executive Officer issued a letter stating the organization’s support of those surviving sexual misconduct by the leadership.
“The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children,” said Roger Mosby, President and Chief Executive Officer. “While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed Trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission.”
In 2010, BSA, in a single child plaintiff in a child abuse case, was ordered by the courts to pay $18.5 million for repeated sexual assaults to a minor by former assistant scoutmaster Timur Dykes in the 1980s. The court concluded that despite the organization’s knowledge of the abuse, Dykes was allowed to continue working with children.