The organization has been hit hard by allegations that it covered up sexual abuse allegations against scout leaders.
The Boy Scouts of America could be headed toward bankruptcy amid a series of damaging and costly lawsuits regarding the organization’s decades of covering up sex abuse scandals, a new report claims.
The organization has hired a high-powered Chicago law firm for help in a potential Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Boy Scouts are being sued for allegedly covering up sexual abuse by scout leaders, including four former scouts who say they were abused by the same scoutmaster in the 1970s.
As the New York Post noted, the Boy Scouts of America as an organization have dropped sharply since peaks in the 1970s. The organization once had more than 6 million members across the country, but now has just around 2 million.
In early 2015, the Los Angeles Times published a report exposing the organization’s confidential files on suspected sexual abusers. The report found 1,900 files and 3,100 case summaries between 1947 and 2005, showing that the organization had lax policies on scout leaders accused of sexual abuse against young boys. It also found men accused of sexual abuse were put on a so-called “black list” that was regularly not followed.
The newspaper had published a series of stories on abuse accusations for years, including report on how the Boy Scouts’ resistance to adopting criminal background checks for volunteers and staff allowed convicted sex offenders to join unnoticed. It also spoke with victims of abuse who described decades of pain following the abuse and lack of action from scout leaders.
The Boy Scouts of America are even facing a legal challenge from the Girl Scouts of the USA. As NPR reported, the organization filed a federal lawsuit against the Boy Scouts claiming that the organization violated trademark infringement by dropping the word “Boy” from its name and just going by “Scouts.” The Girl Scouts also said the Boy Scouts were leading a “covert campaign” to recruit girls.
“We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” Girl Scouts National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan said in a statement.
The Boy Scouts of America released a letter on Wednesday saying they “care deeply about all victims of child sex abuse” and said they apologize to anyone abused through one of their programs. The organization did not say if it was planning to declare bankruptcy, and said the daily mission of the organization will continue and there were no imminent actions or immediate decisions planned.
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