PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– One of the most prominent institutions of the 20th century is now struggling to survive. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is filing for bankruptcy protection amid hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits. But local leaders say the bankruptcy won’t have a huge impact on their packs.
Millions of Americans have been a part of Boy Scouts of America over the last 110 years. Jamie Kirkpatrick, an eagle scout himself, has kids involved in the organization. He says scouting is a major part of his life.
“It fills a lot of gaps that I think are missing from young people that they don’t get from home or school,” Kirkpatrick said.
On Tuesday the organization filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy preparing to pay victims who were sexually abused during their time in the scouts. BSA’s national president, Roger Mosby issued a statement saying
“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.”Statement from Boy Scouts of America president, Roger Mosby
Kirkpatrick says this won’t affect boy scout troops because troops keep their own financial records and provide most of their own resources.
“Ultimately, the letter I read, it ultimately won’t have an effect on the local levels, it’s just a process they are going through to re-organize their finances. The local units themselves don’t have any resources tied to the national unit, they’re always tied to the organization they’re chartered through,” Kirkpatrick said.
Former scouts who were abused say the bankruptcy is an admission.
“It’s an admission of guilt. By filing bankruptcy, you’re admitting that in all probability you’re going to be liable for these victims, these documented victims. And it’s going to cost you a great deal of money,” said Ralph Morse, a former Boy Scout.
BSA listed their valued assets between $1 billion and $10 billion and could have to pay out between $500 million and $1 billion.
By going to bankruptcy court, Boy Scouts of America can put those lawsuits on hold for now. They also said scouting programs will continue. The 110-year-old organization has also seen declining membership in recent years and rising operating costs.