How Is The Scouting Community Reacting to Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Filing?

The news of an impending bankruptcy at the Boy Scouts of America was met with muddled reaction from the Scouting community Tuesday, as many said that the organization's operations are expected to persevere.

"I hope that it's just a means to preserve resources," one parent of a formerly active Eagle Scout in Florida told Newsweek.

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Marcie Adkins, of Brevard County, Florida, further expressed the belief that after instituting a model program in recent years to safeguard youth, the Boy Scouts of America were rightly using bankruptcy protection to shield the organization's assets and ensure its ongoing viability.

The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 protection early Tuesday to expedite the resolution of numerous sexual abuse lawsuits the organization is facing. Hundreds, if not thousands, of plaintiffs across the country have alleged in recent years there was sexual abuse at the troop level and attempts to cover up some of the most serious offenses they claim occurred.

The national organization has previously apologized to those who it acknowledged were harmed and has emphasized its implementation of a "youth protection" protocol, which serves as a model for recognizing and responding to allegations of abuse.

The Boy Scouts are "taking responsibility for what happened in the past and doing all it can to protect youth in our Scouting programs," an organization-affiliated publication, Scouting magazine, said Tuesday in a blog post.

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Local councils—which operate the Scouting programs and are legally distinct entities from the national organization—dismissed the notion that bankruptcy would jeopardize their ongoing activities.

The Theodore Roosevelt Council, which was incorporated over 100 years ago in Nassau County, New York, said in a statement that its "operations will continue to operate [like] business-as-usual."

"We are confident that our programs will continue to benefit young people and enhance our communities here in Nassau County for many years to come," the group said.

The national organization echoed these ideas, emphasizing Tuesday that "Scouting programs will continue throughout this process and for many years to come."

Other individuals with ties to the Scouting community were similarly hopeful.

Ed Henderson, who previously served on two councils and was a volunteer scoutmaster, told Newsweek that most troop leaders see the legal and financial developments "as something far off and removed from them."

Henderson did say, however, that there is a "sense of shock" among the rank and file that Philmont Scout Ranch, the organization's crown jewel property in New Mexico, was mortgaged to help cope with the financial burden of hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits.

Troop leaders told Newsweek that they didn't expect the news to have any substantive impact on their finances or affect their ability to recruit and retain personnel. Nor did they indicate that there was much confusion among members about how bankruptcy would affect ongoing activities.

Lawyers representing individuals who say they were abused by the Scouts, however, expressed reservations about the bankruptcy maneuver, especially as it concerns their clients' efforts to realize some measure of closure.

"Unfortunately, by filing for bankruptcy, my clients are again being denied their day in court," Paul Mones, a Los Angeles attorney representing hundreds of alleged victims, told Newsweek. "It's an attempt to make this a fait accompli, but it is certainly far from that. If we have anything to say about it, this will not be the final plan for the Boy Scouts of America."

Stewart Eisenberg, a Philadelphia attorney who formed an association representing Boy Scouts accusers in court, said he hopes this development allows victims to achieve justice.

Although bankruptcy "will not completely" bring about the desired result of the lawsuits, it is "the best that can be offered to many victims at the moment," he said.

Boy Scouts
A Boy Scout at a camp outside Payson, Utah, in July 2015. George Frey/Getty
How Is The Scouting Community Reacting to Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Filing? | U.S.