Over 90,000 sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America were filed last month as a crucial deadline expired for victims to act. The Boy Scouts is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and a November 16 deadline was set for victims to step forward and file their claims. As the number of claimants soared to 90,000 and beyond, the case became the single largest child sex abuse case involving a single national organization.
The bar date prompted a flurry of claims as victims rushed to file the necessary paperwork ahead of the cut-off date. But the number of litigants far exceeds that which was expected when the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection in February. At that time, 275 lawsuits were facing the organization in state and federal court, on top of another potential 1,400 claims.
It’s another chapter in the long history of sexual abuse within the Scouts. Back in 2010, Paul Mones won a landmark case against the organization that resulted in an award of $19.9 million in damages. The case also forced the Scouts to release over 20,000 confidential documents which demonstrated how the organization covered up known abuse cases by failing to report them to police. The documents later became known as the “Perversion Files.”
Attorney Paul Mones tried that landmark 2010 case. And despite the wave of litigation that followed, he was still surprised by the sheer number of claimants that have sought justice against the Boy Scouts.
“Even for me, who probably has been doing this since the beginning, I couldn’t see it coming,” said Mones to USA Today, who represents about 400 clients in the current case. “Not these numbers.”
It’s possible that the 90,000 figure is an undercount of the actual number of victims. The Scouts have been around for 100 years. During the organization’s peak in the 1970s, membership was about 4 million. Current membership sits at around 2 million. But sexual abuse cases are notoriously underreported because victims are often too afraid to come forward. Some plaintiffs have told their lawyers there are other victims who refuse to speak up.
Mones reports that the age range of his clients runs from teenagers to men over the age of 80. Some of them were abused by people documented in the Perversion Files, but most were not. The majority of his clients’ allegations have never been reported.
From here, the 90,000 cases will be reviewed and settlement discussions will likely begin. The Scouts have proposed establishing a fund to compensate victims as its bankruptcy looms. The amount of money victims will receive will almost certainly be a point of contention. Under any sort of bankruptcy reorganization plan, the organization must come up with enough money to pay its creditors, including abuse victims.
A looming fight is also emerging over whether the Scouts’ assets, such as land holdings, could be liquidated to compensate victims. The Scouts’ insurers would help pay any settlement offered to victims. But lawyers said they were unable to estimate how much the settlement would ultimately be.
The Scouts are just one example of a national organization with a long and sordid history of abuse. Victims often suffer permanent emotional and psychological harm and require mental health treatment and other assistance to try to rebuild their lives. An experienced child sexual abuse attorney understands the sort of expenses these victims incur, and how to make the offending organization pay.
If you or a loved one were sexually abused by an organization like the Boy Scouts, our law firm wants to help. Depending on your claims, you may have the ability to demand monetary compensation for your injuries. Give Paul Mones a call today to learn more about your legal options.