News has broken that the Boy Scouts of America have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware in attempts to save the organization from the hundreds of sexual-abuse lawsuits that have begun to flow in. This move could be but the first domino to fall in one of the most complex bankruptcy cases to date.
While scouting will continue since local councils are legally separate and distinct, the Scouts’ struggles are not coming from out of the blue: their finances have been strained by declining membership and the multiple settlements that have been paid out for the very same reason they are currently under the gun for.
Filing for bankruptcy amidst suits has long been the way as it gives defendants the time to figure out what they are about to owe and, essentially, do the math against what they own. The Boy Scouts’ case is similar to the asbestos-related cases like U.S. Gypsum, as in they do not yet know how many victims will come forward. In this time, we could also see the institution start to sell off their property holdings in order to begin amassing a victim compensation plan.
The Scouts would be the latest storied institution to fall at the hands of sexual-abuse lawsuits, joining the likes of Penn State, U.S.A. Gymnastics, and the Roman Catholic Church.
The 110 year-old organization is facing cases from the 60s through to the 80s, a time range that can be explained by the stricter guidelines and restrictions that were implemented towards the end of the 1980s.
Despite the fact that officials say there were only five known abuse victims in 2018, the current situation is a sharp directional change for what was once a source of such pride, and so symbolic of American life.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol.49 Issue 10 on February 26th, 2020