The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has reached a $850m settlement with some 60,000 people over claims of historic sexual abuse.
Lawyers say it will be the single largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history and in terms of reported numbers, it dwarves similar complaints made against the Catholic Church.
The BSA has apologised to victims and filed for bankruptcy last year, saying it would set up a compensation trust for victims of sexual abuse, as Breitbart News reported.
Attorneys for the BSA filed court papers late Thursday outlining a restructuring support agreement with attorneys representing abuse victims. The agreement also includes attorneys representing local Boy Scouts councils and lawyers appointed to represent victims who might file future claims, AP reports.
“After months of intensive negotiations, the debtors have reached resolution with every single official and major creditor constituency in these Chapter 11 cases,” BSA attorneys wrote.
The decision comes at a time when the movement is struggling for members and recognition across America.
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are battling for new members following their separate decisions to give up their single-sex status, and also to recruit boys and girls who say they are transgender. https://t.co/euFkESXzAi
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 30, 2020
The settlement needs to be approved by a judge, but may face opposition from Boy Scouts of America insurers who would have to pay out millions of dollars.
Under another agreement, expected to be filed on Friday, local BSA councils are expected to contribute $600m towards the settlement fund, according to AP.
A handful of insurers for BSA – who would be responsible for payouts – have also accused the organisation of excluding them from negotiations, saying they gave the victims’ lawyers too much influence over the final settlement.
“With only the fox guarding the hen-house, the outcome is utterly at odds with what BSA itself asserted was necessary for a confirmable (bankruptcy) plan,” the insurers said in a statement.
The 100-year-old organization could now be forced to sell off some of its vast property holdings to raise money for the compensation trust that could surpass $1 billion by the time the last claims are settled.
AP contributed to this story
Author: Simon Kent