The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early Tuesday in an attempt to keep operating amid a wave of child sex-abuse lawsuits and declining membership.
The move, filed in Delaware bankruptcy court, halts the hundreds of lawsuits the 110-year-old organization is currently facing that allege sexual misconduct against children by BSA employees or volunteers.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
The bankruptcy filing marks a watershed moment in the 110-year history of the Boy Scouts, which for years have been embroiled in lawsuits blaming the organization for failing to screen out sexual predators. It said in court papers that its "ability to deliver its mission to future generations of scouts may be in peril" unless it can reach a broad settlement of hundreds of current and future sex-abuse claims.
Roger Mosby, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement Tuesday:
"The BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to harm innocent children. While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process – with the proposed Trust structure – will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA's important mission."
Since 2017, BSA has paid more than $150 million in settlements and legal fees defending and resolving sex-abuse claims. There are still roughly 275 pending lawsuits.
In December, the Mormon Church ended its longtime partnership with the Boy Scouts, pulling roughly 400,000 members and creating its own youth program. The move came less than a year after BSA announced its decision to allow girls in its Boy Scouts program in the name of inclusivity.
The Boy Scouts' woes have also given rise to other competing organizations, such as Trail Life USA, which are rising in popularity.