More than 92,000 claims against the Boy Scouts of America have been timely filed by survivors of childhood sexual assault and abuse, meeting the November 16th deadline to file bankruptcy claim forms against the national youth organization. Trial attorney Spencer Lucas of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP was among them, filing 240 claims on behalf of survivors. “The fact that almost 100,000 survivors have come forward to file claims is astounding,” said Mr. Lucas. “This is the largest case of sexual abuse in history and dwarfs all of the Catholic church sexual abuse cases combined. The huge number of brave souls who have spoken up is really just the tip of the iceberg as we know that most survivors of sexual abuse never come forward.”
In February 2020, Boy Scouts of America — as a national organization — filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection in the wake of several multi-million dollar verdicts exposing decades of wide-spread sexual abuse of scouts all across America.
“Since 1919 the Boy Scouts have kept what they called perversion files on the pedophiles they knew about in scouting. For many years, the Boy Scout’s policy was to not report abuse in scouting to law enforcement. Decades of cover-ups have led to this momentous bankruptcy” said Mr. Lucas.
Now that the claims have been submitted, many questions have arisen about the financial aspect of the bankruptcy and possible litigation down the line. Informal reports have indicated that potentially billions of dollars in insurance may be available to compensate the claimants.
Concerning the local council’s contribution to the bankruptcy, Mr. Lucas explained “there is an ongoing negotiation happening with the local councils. If the locals want protection from the bankruptcy, the court will require a fair and significant contribution to the bankruptcy to compensate the survivors. All across the country the locals have insurance and assets that could potentially eclipse the contribution from the national organization. If the locals choose not to contribute, they could be subject of litigation of their own. No matter the financial outcome, this day marks a significant turning point in America’s history where so many brave men have spoken up for themselves and forced an iconic American institution to be held accountable.”
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and attorney Spencer Lucas are spearheading efforts to protect survivors of childhood sexual assault in California. With the passing of the state’s Child Victim’s Act in January 2020, attorneys with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP and Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala began filing their first of a series of lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse in California. The survivors were abused by those who held positions of power as leaders or volunteers in religious or other youth-serving organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, and who were precluded from bringing suits due to the previous statute of limitations. In all of these cases, the institutions had either known the abuse was taking place and swept it aside or failed to protect the children otherwise from their abusers.