Attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America and lawyers representing individuals who allege they were abused as scouts agreed on Monday to a Nov. 16 deadline for victims to file bankruptcy claims against the storied youth organization.
The date was presented to a judge in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, where the Boy Scouts have been locked in a tense battle over the future of the organization, as both sides argue over which assets may be included in a settlement and how much information the Scouts may have to divulge about their inner workings.
Details are still being worked out over what information victims may need to share on their claimant forms, and how the process will work. But at the minimum, those who wish to file claims now have a drop-dead date.
“I know what abuse survivors feel and think,” Tim Kosnoff, an attorney for Abused in Scouting, which represents 3,200 men who say they were abused as scouts. “This is their deepest, darkest secret and they don’t want to confront it. If they’re told they have to or they lose their rights forever, then they have to make a decision.”
Around 150 new clients sign on every week, Kosnoff said, estimating that the number of total claimants could reach 10,000 or 15,000 across the country by the November deadline.
The Boy Scouts also will be conducting a nationwide ad campaign through newspapers, TV and radio to spread the word of how people can submit claim forms.
At least 16 men from Colorado last year signed on with Abused in Scouting, though that number is likely higher now, with allegations against scout leaders ranging from unwanted touching to rape. More than 12,000 boys have been molested by 7,800 abusers since the 1920s, Boy Scout files showed, though advocates say the true number of victims is exponentially higher.
An onslaught of sexual abuse lawsuits against the youth organization, coupled with declining membership, forced the Boy Scouts in February to declare bankruptcy.
Colorado’s local councils said the national organization was declaring bankruptcy, not them, and that their programs would continue uninterrupted.
But one of the biggest fights during the bankruptcy proceedings will be over local council property — including thousands of acres in the Rocky Mountains — that lawyers representing the victims say should be included in any settlement. The Boy Scouts contend that local councils are their own entities and should not be subject to any agreement.
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