Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy: What Happens Now?

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said it hopes to continue providing outdoor activities and progams as it has done for more than 100 years after it filed for bankruptcy to help compensate potentially thousands of sex abuse victims.

The national organization announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it aims to settle scores of lawsuits which claim scoutmasters and other leaders have been abusing children for decades.

By declaring bankruptcy, all the lawsuits against the BSA will now be paused and brought to one court, rather than dealing with each case individually in front of a jury trial.

A bankruptcy judge will then decide how best to share the group's assets in order to fairly compensate each abuse victim.

According to the bankruptcy petition filed in a court in Wilmington, Delaware, the BSA lists their assets as between $1 billion and $10 billion, and its liabilities at $500 million to $1 billion.

In a statement, BSA said it will continue to provide "unparalleled programs to young people" even as it deals with the potentially high number of compensation claims.

Local councils that provide programming and other services are financially independent from the national organization and have not filed for bankruptcy.

"Scouting programs, including unit meetings and activities, council events, other Scouting adventures and countless service projects, will continue throughout this process and for many years to come," a statement added.

"The BSA intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims."

"The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting," said Roger Mosby, BSA's president and chief executive officer.

"We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children.

"While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process—with the proposed Trust structure—will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA's important mission."

The lawsuits against BSA increased after several states brought in new laws which made it easier for victims of child abuse to file claims which occurred decades ago.

The change in the law also coincided with the #MeToo movement which saw more victims of sex abuse come forward with claims against their alleged abusers.

The BSA is now encouraging all victims to come forward to file a claim in the case.

James Kretschmer is one of those who is suing BSA after claiming he was abused by a Scout leader in the mid-70s in Spokane, Washington.

Discussing the bankruptcy filing, Kretschmer told the Associated Press: "It is a shame because at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization.

"But you know, anything can be corrupted," he added. "And if they're not going to protect the people that they've entrusted with the children, then shut it down and move on."

Law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, which is representing hundreds of abuse victims, says it is "too early to tell how this bankruptcy" will affect BSA.

"But keep in mind that their membership numbers have been dwindling for many years," their website adds.

BSA said it has nearly 2.2 million members between the ages of 5 and 21, as well as 800,000 volunteers.

Youth membership in BSA has reportedly declined more than 26 percent in the past decade.

The organization was also rocked by the announcement that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be ending its association with BSA after it announced it would admit gay scout leaders and transgender boys.

Boy Scouts
A boy scout salutes the American flag at camp Maple Dell on July 31, 2015 outside Payson, Utah. George Frey/Getty