In February of 2020, The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a response to declining membership and increasing numbers of child sexual abuse allegations dating back to the 1920s. There are now more than 84,000 sexual abuse claims by victims who were abused as minors by Boy Scouts of America staff and volunteers. The bankruptcy protection sought to create a victims trust to compensate those abused and to halt pending lawsuits.
Earlier this month, in response to the approximately 3,000 abuse claims in their state, the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the Michigan State Police launched a joint statewide criminal investigation into the allegations of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, said she plans to investigate the systematic failings of the Boy Scouts of America and will issue a report at the end of the investigation.
While in many cases, the statutes of limitations have expired by the time prosecutors identify perpetrators, Nessel said she that her office hopes a state law that stops the clock on statutes of limitations when perpetrators leave the state will change this. This law would allow those who came to Michigan for a Boy Scouts event, committed abuse, and left, to be criminally prosecuted despite the abuse taking place years ago.
Paul Mones also spoke with the Wall Street Journal and expressed hopes that investigators will analyze internal files that the Boy Scouts kept beginning around 1920. These internal files detailed reported abuse by staff and volunteers. 1,200 of the “ineligible volunteer” files from the 1960s to the 1980s were made public. Mones remarked that thousands of files are still held by the Boy Scouts, while nearly 20,000 were destroyed in the 1970s. “The organization’s failure to report suspicions of abuse documented in the files to police and other groups allowed perpetrators to abuse others,” Mones said.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office & State Police are currently collecting information. Investigators are asking anyone with information about abuse and the Boy Scouts of America to call their hotline at 844-324-3374 on Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM (Central Time).
In a public video address, Michigan Attorney General Nessel remarked, “I remain committed to fighting for victims of sexual assault regardless of the circumstance under which it occurred. Those who abuse their power to inflict harm on others must be held accountable.”
Other states could follow Michigan’s example in investigating the Boy Scouts of America’s institutional failings. Following these investigations, reports that identify perpetrators could be used to investigate further allegations of abuse.