As the Boy Scouts of America work to settle nearly 100,000 claims of sexual abuse of the children under their care, the organization says that they need to settle the claims by this coming summer or they may not be around for the fall.
The number of settlements was finalized last month as a deadline elapsed for those wishing to come forward as victims and survivors of abuse at the hands of Scout leaders across the country. Over 95,000 survivors have done so; a number that sent both sides staggering. The organization had already been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy negotiations and a vital step of resolving those proceedings was settling the remaining sexual abuse cases. No one on either side expected that number to stretch to nearly six-figures.
BSA calls the number of survivors “gut wrenching.” The organization released a statement saying that it was “devasted by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who came forward.” The statement goes on say that Boy Scouts of America “intentionally developed an open, accessible process to reach survivors and help them take an essential step toward receiving compensation. The response we have seen from survivors has been gut wrenching. We are deeply sorry.”
Such profound words would carry significantly more weight if all evidence didn’t point to the fact that BSA has known about its sexual predator problem since the 1940s and has categorically and routinely failed to act on it. An internal investigation commissioned by BSA itself shed light on some 12,000 boys that had been assaulted in scouting by nearly 8,000 predators within its ranks.
Boy Scouts of America has also been taking pages from the Catholic Church’s playbook when it comes to lobbying against sexual abuse statutes as they make their way through state and federal legislative bodies. The Church, itself no stranger to financial struggles brought about by a reckoning of the sexual misconduct of its priests and other officials, has lobbied directly to legislators sitting in its parishes during weekly sermons.
At the core of all of this, however, one has to wonder if an organization teetering on bankruptcy due to the crushing debt of settling nearly 100,000 childhood sexual abuse lawsuits is an organization that should exist in the first place.