The Boy Scouts of America more than doubled their initial offer of compensation to scouts victims of sexual abuse Thursday night to $ 850 million, paving the way for a landmark settlement in the organization’s bankruptcy proceedings. youth.
Offer arrives more than a year after the nonprofit group filed for bankruptcy as he faced 275 lawsuits for abuse and 1,400 potential claims. By the November 2020 deadline for victims to come forward, the number of complaints had reached nearly 90,000, which makes it one of the largest cases of sexual abuse against a single national organization.
“This initial $ 850 million settlement is the largest sexual abuse complaint settlement in US history,” Ken Rothweiler, an attorney representing a group of survivors, said in a statement. “I am happy that the BSA and its local councils have stepped up to be the first to compensate survivors.”
Another lawyer representing survivors, Paul Mones, told USA TODAY that with the insurance premiums he expects the settlement amount to reach over $ 1 billion. Jordan Merson, also counsel for the plaintiffs, hoped for more.
“It’s important that people see this dollar amount and know it’s not the end; it’s just the beginning,” Merson said. “There are billions of dollars in insurance money out there, and the fight for that money continues.”
The controversy had centered on the lower initial offer, especially from the hundreds of local Scout Councils. In the offer filed Thursday in federal bankruptcy court, the boards are assuming the largest share: $ 600 million.
“There would never have been a deal that a survivor would be happy with,” Mones said. “What we tried to do in this negotiation was, under the circumstances, and with all the various competing interests, the best possible deal.”
With a reduction in the number of expected eligible victims to around 82,000, the amount proposed Thursday would provide approximately $ 10,000 to each claimant, which will be paid at different times to survivors. This assumes an even distribution among survivors and does not reflect issues related to limitation periods or specific acts of abuse.
In addition to the settlement money, Boy Scouts of America agreed to give the Settlement Trust access to all abuse-related records, as well as non-monetary compensation, such as insurance fees and remedies. protection in current organizational programs.
“We have also seen that a very important part of our mission is to do everything possible so that this does not continue to happen,” said Douglas Kennedy, co-chair of the survivors’ committee.
Kennedy, who said he was abused as a teenager on a Scout camping trip, added that access to the records would also be beneficial to the public, so “anyone who has been an abuser is not walking around the service of other organizations “.
Mones said now victims who have filed claims will vote on the settlement, which he said he believed they would agree to.
In March, USA TODAY estimated that Boys Scouts of America was worth more than $ 3.7 billion, including more than 250 local councils as well as various trusts and endowments.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.