The Boys Scouts of America late Thursday more than doubled their original compensation offer for sexually abused Boy Scouts to $ 850 million, paving the way for a historic settlement under the youth organization’s bankruptcy proceedings.
The offer comes more than a year after the nonprofit group filed for bankruptcy as it faced 275 abuse lawsuits and 1,400 potential claims. By the November 2020 deadline for victims to come forward, the number of lawsuits had risen to nearly 90,000, making it one of the largest cases of sexual abuse against a single national organization.
“This initial $ 850 million settlement is the largest sexual abuse lawsuit settlement in United States history,” Ken Rothweiler, an attorney who represents a group of survivors, said in a statement. “I am delighted that both the BSA and its local councils will be the first to compensate the survivors.”
Another attorney representing survivors, Paul Mones, told USA TODAY that with insurance premiums, he expected the settlement to grow to over $ 1 billion. Jordan Merson, also the plaintiffs’ attorney, was hoping for more.
“It’s important that people see that dollar amount and know that this is not the end; this is just the beginning,” Merson said. “There are billions of dollars in insurance money and the battle for that money continues.”
The controversy had centered on the lower original offer, particularly from the hundreds of local Boy Scout Councils. In the offer submitted to the federal bankruptcy court on Thursday, the councils carry the largest share: 600 million US dollars.
“There was never an arrangement a survivor would be happy to have,” Mones said. “What we tried to do in these negotiations was the best possible deal, given the circumstances and all the various competing interests.”
If the expected eligible victims were reduced to about 82,000, the amount proposed on Thursday would provide approximately $ 10,000 to each claimant, which will be made available to survivors at different times. This assumes an even distribution among the survivors and does not reflect questions related to statute of limitations or specific acts of abuse.
In addition to the settlement funds, 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 protections in current organizational programs.
“We have also seen that a very important part of our mission is to do whatever we can to make sure this doesn’t keep happening,” said Douglas Kennedy, co-chair of the survivors’ committee.
Kennedy, who said he was abused as a teenager on a Boy Scout camping trip, added that access to records will also be beneficial to the public so that “anyone who has been an abuser doesn’t run around to other organizations to serve”.
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Mones said that now the victims who have filed claims will vote on the settlement he believes he will accept.
In March, USA TODAY valued Boy Scouts of America at over $ 3.7 billion, including more than 250 local councils and various trusts and foundations.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.