Boy Scouts could pay $1bn to 60,000 sex abuse victims in 'history's largest settlement'

'There are billions of dollars in insurance money, and the fight to get that money is continuing,' said one lawyer representing the survivors


                            Boy Scouts could pay $1bn to 60,000 sex abuse victims in 'history's largest settlement'
A sign for the National Office outside the Boy Scouts of America Headquarters (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Boys Scouts of America has now doubled its initial offer of compensation to sexually abused Scouts to $850 million, setting the stage for a historic settlement as part of the youth organization's liquidation proceedings on Thursday, July 1. The proposal comes more than a year after the nonprofit group filed for bankruptcy as it faced 275 abuse claims and 1,400 potential trials.

With the November 2020 deadline for victims to come forward, the claims rose nearly to 90,000, making it one of the biggest sex abuse scandals against a single national organization. "This initial settlement of $850 million is the largest settlement of sexual abuse claims in United States history," Ken Rothweiler, a lawyer representing a group of survivors, said in a statement. "I am pleased that both the BSA and their local councils have stepped up to be the first to compensate the survivors."

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Another lawyer representing survivors, Paul Mones, stated that with insurance benefactions he expects the amount of the settlement to rise to over $1 billion. Jordan Merson, also a plaintiffs attorney, held out hope for more. "It is important that people see this dollar amount, and know this is not the end; this is just the beginning," Merson said. "There are billions of dollars in insurance money, and the fight to get that money is continuing." 

The discussion had centered on the lower original offer, especially from the hundreds of local Scout councils. In the offer listed in federal bankruptcy court on Thursday, July 1, the councils are shouldering the biggest share: $600 million."There was never going to be an agreement that any survivor would be happy about," Mones said. "What we attempted to do in this negotiation was, under the circumstances, and with all of the various competing interests, the best deal possible." With a decrease in expected eligible victims to about 82,000, the price proposed on Thursday would give about $10,000 to each claimant, which will be given at different time periods to the survivors. That implies an even distribution among survivors and does not reflect issues related to laws of limitations or specific acts of abuse.

Apart from the whopping amount, Boy Scouts of America agreed to give the Settlement Trust access to all records related to abuse, as well as non-monetary compensation such as insurance rights and emergency measures in current organization programs. "We've also seen a very important part of our mission is to do everything possible to make sure this doesn't continue to occur," said Douglas Kennedy, co-chair of the survivor's committee. Kennedy, who was abused as a teen on a Scout camping trip, added that access to records will be advantageous to the public, too, so "anybody who was an abuser isn't walking around serving other organizations."

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