The massive sex abuse scandal that sent the Boy Scouts of America into bankruptcy came one step closer to a resolution on Thursday. The 111-year-old non-profit organization and three groups representing 60,000 men who were sexually abused while in the Scouts filed an $850 million settlement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Thursday.
“Bringing these groups together marks a significant milestone and is the biggest step forward to date as the BSA works toward our dual imperatives of equitably compensating survivors of abuse and preserving the mission of Scouting,” the Scouts said in a statement.
“I am pleased that both the BSA and their local councils have stepped up to be the first to compensate the survivors,” Ken Rothweiler, one of three lead negotiators on behalf of the victims, said in a statement celebrating what he called “the largest settlement of sexual abuse claims in United States history.”
The $850 million figure is more than double what the Boy Scouts originally proposed. It requires local councils to collectively contribute at least $300 million to the settlement fund, with the national BSA organization providing the remainder of the funds to be disbursed to men who say they were raped, molested, or sexually harassed as children in the Scouts.
But the deal is far from done, as it still requires a signature from a judge. And there will certainly be objections to the terms.
Tim Kosnoff, an attorney who represents another group of victims, was livid when he heard about the terms of the deal through news reports.
“I don’t know how you can characterize this as anything but a failure,” Kosnoff told NPR. “I would say it is a nonstarter, and if my clients asked me if I thought it was a good deal for them I would say no.” He went on to call the proposed settlement “an insult to all of the men who found the courage to file claims and participated in this process.”
More than 92,700 men have claimed that they were sexually abused while in the Scouts, so this settlement doesn’t include a significant chunk of the victims, which could delay the ultimate resolution.
Also opposing the settlement are the insurance companies that will be on the hook for these payments. They say that the terms are far too generous to the victims.
Representatives of AIG, Travelers, and other insurers said in a court filing that the Boy Scouts excluded them from negotiations and allowed the victims’ lawyers too much leeway in dictating the terms of the 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 insurance affiliates said.
The legal wrangling might be far from over, but this filing is still a big step forward. It resolves the biggest conflict in the case—between the BSA and the majority of the victims—and opens the door to the resolution of new arguments from these dissenters.