Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy
Child Victims Act Deadline Extended! On August 3, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed an extension that gives abuse survivors another year (until mid-August 2021) to file a civil claim for the abuse they suffered. Please remember this extension does *not* apply to defendants who file for bankruptcy, including the Boy Scouts of America. The bankruptcy judge in the Boy Scout bankruptcy has set November 16, 2020, as the deadline to file a claim in the bankruptcy. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, please contact us to learn your options and ensure your legal rights are protected.
On February 18, 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits brought by survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including almost 100 lawsuits that we filed against the Boy Scouts in New York. In 2019 and 2020 we likely filed more lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America than any other lawyer or law firm in the country. This page provides important information about claims against the Boy Scouts, including important information about the bankruptcy and the November 16, 2020, for abuse survivors to file a claim in the bankruptcy.
Choose a Law Firm Who Will Protect *All* of Your Rights: Many people who were abused by a Scout leader, or as a result of the Scouting program, have separate legal claims against three different entities: the national Boy Scouts of America, the “local council” of the Boy Scouts who oversaw their Scouting unit, and the “sponsoring organization” that sponsored or chartered their Scouting unit (usually a church, school, or other youth-serving organization). Although the Boy Scouts (national) knew for decades that men were using their positions as Scout leaders or volunteers to groom and to sexually abuse children, the local councils and sponsoring organizations were most often the ones who received complaints about a specific Scout leader and ignored them, or saw “red flags” about a Scout leader and ignored them. Those entities are just as responsible, if not more responsible, than the national Boy Scouts. Many of them, like the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church, were well aware of the danger of child sexual abuse because of their own problems with their leaders and members abusing children.
The national Boy Scouts of America is the entity that filed for bankruptcy, but the local councils and the sponsoring organizations are currently *not* a part of the Boy Scout bankruptcy. This means many people need to take separate legal action to protect their claims against the local councils and sponsoring organizations who may be responsible for their abuse because those claims may *not* be compensated in the bankruptcy.
If you are looking for an attorney, or already have an attorney, make sure you ask about all of your legal rights, make sure the attorney agrees to protect all of your rights, and make sure the attorney agrees to investigate and pursue any claim you may have for the abuse you suffered. Obviously you must be the one who decides which claim(s) you want to pursue, but you deserve an attorney who will explain all of your legal options so you can make an informed decision.
As with hiring any professional, we recommend you interview multiple law firms, read the “fine print” of their contracts, and confirm in writing that they will protect all of your legal rights and pursue all of your legal claims if that is what you want them to do. If a law firm is only willing to help you in the bankruptcy, or suggests you don’t need to worry about any claim you may have against a local council or sponsoring organization, you may want to consider a different law firm. Please remember that almost any claim you have is governed by a statute of limitations — if a lawyer assumes all of your claims will be covered by the bankruptcy, and the lawyer is wrong, the statute of limitations may expire on your legal claims and you will lose your right to pursue those claims.
We will not comment on the practices of other other law firms other than to note that some firms have been accused of false and misleading advertising in their quest to sign up hundreds or thousands of clients, including failing to adequately inform their own clients of all of their legal rights. While we want all abuse survivors to be aware of the bankruptcy, and aware of the bankruptcy deadline of November 16, 2020, we also want to make sure people are not misled about the bankruptcy, that they understand all of their legal rights, and that they choose which claims they want to pursue. A lawyer should not make that decision for their clients, and a lawyer should make sure their clients understand all of their rights so the client can choose which claims they want to pursue (or not pursue).
Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy — “Bar Date” Deadline: On May 18, 2020, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Boy Scouts bankruptcy set November 16, 2020, as the “bar date” deadline for abuse survivors to file claims in the bankruptcy. This deadline is called a “bar date” because anyone who fails to file a claim by the deadline will likely have their claim against the Boy Scouts forever “barred” and they will likely forfeit any claim they have against the Boy Scouts, including any right to compensation from the Boy Scouts. The deadline usually applies to anyone who has a claim, even people who come forward late because they were not aware of the deadline.
This deadline may shorten the statute of limitations for abuse survivors in New York. On August 14, 2019, the Child Victims Act in New York gave all child abuse survivors, regardless of their current age, one year to file a lawsuit for the abuse they suffered. Even if that one year “window” is extended, anyone with a claim against the Boy Scouts must still file a claim in the bankruptcy by the “bar date” deadline of November 16, 2020.
If you or someone you love may have a claim against the Boy Scouts of America the time to act is now. Please contact us to learn your legal options and to ensure your legal rights are protected. You can also read our answers to “frequently asked questions” about the bankruptcy by clicking here.
What Does the Boy Scout Bankruptcy Mean for Abuse Survivors?
If you were abused by a Scout leader please know a “bankruptcy” only means the Boy Scouts are facing so many lawsuits that they need a bankruptcy judge to decide a fair way to divide their substantial assets and insurance among the abuse survivors who file claims. A “bankruptcy” does not mean abuse survivors will receive no compensation if they file a claim. Some reports state the Boy Scouts have more than $1 billion in assets that may be available to compensate abuse survivors, plus their insurance. In order to quality for compensation you must file a claim with the bankruptcy court and by the “bar date” deadline of November 16, 2020. This deadline applies to claims against the Boy Scouts even if the Child Victims Act is extended beyond the current deadline of August 13, 2020, which we believe is one of the reasons the Boy Scouts have filed for bankruptcy.
If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a Scout leader or someone associated with the Scouts please contact us to learn your options and to ensure your rights are protected.
Interviews Regarding the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy: Some of our clients have decided to speak out regarding the Boy Scouts bankruptcy and what it means to them. Our lawyers have also been featured in a number of news stories about the bankruptcy because of our long history of helping Boy Scout abuse survivors and our work in a large number of the Catholic bankruptcies. You can read or watch some of the stories by clicking on the links below:
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy. Hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits are now on hold” (CNN)
- “Boy Scouts seek bankruptcy, urge victims to step forward” (AP)
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy amid sexual abuse lawsuits” (CBS)
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy after sex abuse lawsuits” (Fox News)
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy amid wave of potential lawsuits” (Washington Post)
- “Why the Boy Scouts Are Bankrupt and What It Means For Families” (Yahoo News)
First Lawsuits Filed Against the Boy Scouts and Its Local Councils: On August 14, 2019, our clients across New York filed some of the first lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America and its local councils under the Child Victims Act.
New York County: Diaz et al. v. Boy Scouts of America and Greater New York Councils
Westchester County: D.W. v. Boy Scouts of America and Westchester-Putnman Council
Onondaga County: Bleau v. Boy Scouts of America and Longhouse Council
The Child Victims Act gives all abuse survivors, regardless of their current age, one year to file a civil claim for the abuse they suffered. However, anyone with a claim against the Boy Scouts of America must file a claim in the bankruptcy court by November 16, 2020, or they will likely forever lose any claim they may have against the Boy Scouts and any right to compensation in the bankruptcy. If you were abused while in Scouts, or if you were abused by a Scout leader, please contact us to learn your options as we can help make sure your rights are protected.
Our law firms represent many people who were sexually abused in New York while they were in the Boy Scouts of America. You can read or watch some of the recent news stories regarding our clients and some of our attorneys by clicking here. (The clients chose to tell their stories. Any contact you have with us will be strictly confidential.)
This page provides an update regarding the Child Victims Act, an overview of the problem of sexual abuse in Scouting, and a link to the files of Scout leaders who the Boy Scouts deemed “ineligible” to volunteer because they believed the Scout leader posed a danger to children. As noted below, if you were abused by a Scout leader and his name does not appear in the files, please do not be alarmed as the list is very incomplete. Whether their name is on the list does not mean you do not have a claim for the abuse you suffered. Please contact us to learn your options.
New York “Ineligible Volunteer” / “Perversion” Files
At the bottom of this page you will find links to the files for Boy Scout leaders in New York who the Boy Scouts deemed “ineligible” to volunteer because they believed the Scout leader posed a danger to children. Some of our lawyers obtained these files almost twenty years ago, so please know that any report claiming the files are “new” is inaccurate. Please also know that the files are incomplete — the Boy Scouts have not released their files for many years, and they had a policy of destroying files once the person was deceased. We have represented many people who were abused by Boy Scout leaders who are not in the files, so do not be discouraged if you were abused by someone who is not in the files. Please contact us to learn your legal options — under the Child Victims Act anyone regardless of age will have one year to file a claim against the Boy Scouts for the abuse they suffered, but that one year could be much shorter if the Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy.
History of the “Ineligible” Volunteer Files
Starting in the early 1900s, the Boy Scouts of America maintained a file system that became known as the “ineligible volunteer” files. The files contained a list of the names of adults who the Boy Scouts deemed ineligible to volunteer in Scouting for a variety of reasons, including child sexual abuse. In 1935, the then Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts, Dr. James E. West, told the New York Times that the list contained 2,919 names and that “a proportion represents men who are morally unfit.” West noted that the Boy Scouts “still have those who seek to enter Scouting and contact boys who are unbalanced morally” and others who “undertake to deal with sex matters and become morbid on the subject and sometimes give way to temptation and develop practices which make them degenerates.”
In the New York Times article, Dr. West explained that “degenerate types” represented about 30% of the 2,919 files, or almost 1,000 individual Scout leaders. West claimed Scout leaders who were removed for “defects of a moral nature” were not considered for leadership jobs or any Scout position.
After 1935, little was reported on the existence or content of the ineligible volunteer files until 2012, when a judge ordered the public release of the files. Those files show that between 1960 and 1992, the Boy Scouts created approximately 153 files for Scout leaders across New York. Between 1992 and 2004, the Boy Scouts are believed to have added more than 200 new names from New York to its list of “ineligible volunteers,” but the files on those individuals have not been released to the public.
The Boy Scouts tried to keep this list of names secret for many years. For example, we have an internal Boy Scout memo about the files where the Scout executive in charge of the files asked other Scout executives to keep the letter confidential because of “the misunderstandings which could develop if it were widely distributed.” He instructed them to avoid sharing it “beyond the top management of your council.”
Below is the list of names for the 153 Scout leaders in the ineligible volunteer files who were associated with a troop in New York. You can click on the person’s name and it will take you to a page with more information on the person and some or all of the file that the Boy Scouts maintained on the individual. Again, please do not be discouraged if the Boy Scout leader who abused you is not listed below as there are likely 100s of Scout leaders who abused children who are not on this list.
If you were abused by a Boy Scout leader or volunteer, even if it was decades ago, please contact an attorney to learn your legal options. The time to act is now as the time to file a claim under the Child Victims Act will be limited.