Boy Scouts Facing Nearly 90,000 Sexual Abuse Claims In “Unprecedented” Case

By John Vibes

For several years, stories have surfaced of young boys being molested by older men during their time in the Boy Scouts of America organization.

Numerous cases of predatory scout leaders have made the news over the years, but since the organization filed for bankruptcy protection in February, advocates and lawyers from across the country have been encouraging victims to come forward with their accusations of abuse.

This week, the Associated Press reported that nearly 90,000 sexual abuse claims were officially filed against the Boy Scouts of America. The exact total of claims was 88,500.

In a statement expressing compassion for the victims, the organization said, “We are devastated by the number of lives impacted by past abuse in Scouting and moved by the bravery of those who have come forward. We are heartbroken that we cannot undo their pain.”

The victims who came forward with complaints will be included in a compensation fund that will be established after the bankruptcy trial.

Andrew Van Arsdale, a lawyer with a network called Abused in Scouting, said that Boy Scouts of America spent millions in advertising to encourage victims to come forward.

The Boy Scouts said it “intentionally developed an open, accessible process to reach survivors and help them take an essential step toward receiving compensation. The response we have seen from survivors has been gut-wrenching. We are deeply sorry.

Many of the accusations go back as far as the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, which was before the organization began doing criminal background checks, and intentionally preventing adults from being alone with children. However, there were nearly 2,000 reported cases of abuse within the Boy Scouts of America prior to 1994, and at least one abuse incident as recent as 2006.

“More sexual abuse claims will be filed in the Boy Scouts bankruptcy than all claims filed against the Catholic Church throughout the nation,” the Torts Claimants Committee said.

“Sexual abuse in scouting is unprecedented and the remedies for victims must, likewise, be unprecedented,” said the committee’s chairman, John Humphrey.

An NPR interview about the case is linked in the post below:

In May 1991, The Washington Times published an investigation titled “Scouts Honor” on abuse in the organization, which cast a national spotlight on the issue. Before that, the BSA was one of the most trusted and respected youth organizations in the country.

The report revealed that 1,151 Scouts reported being abused by their leaders during the 19-year period that they investigated, between 1971 and 1990. The report also noted that there were 416 cases in that time period where a US Scout leader was arrested or banned from Scouting for sexual abuse.

In 2010, a jury ordered that the Scouts pay $18.5 million to a Scout who was abused in the 1980s—it was the largest punitive damages award to a single plaintiff in a child abuse case in the US.


John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.

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