Leader, lawyer react to Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy

Updated: Feb. 18, 2020 at 5:54 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - After being hit by lawsuits amounting to millions and millions of dollars, the Boys Scouts of America is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to a special website created by the Boy Scouts, one reason for the bankruptcy filing is to “create a Trust that will provide equitable compensation to victims.”

This comes after the Boy Scouts of America was hit by lawsuits amounting to millions and millions of dollars.

One scout leader says the bankruptcy filing won't affect his scouts.

That’s echoed by the Boy Scouts of America. The organization says local councils are “legally independent, separate and distinct from the national organization.”

Jay Matteson leads a troop in Adams. He says the filing could lead some people to decide not to join.

But, Matteson says he's seen the scouts' positive effects on kids.

“My son, as a scout, helped with natural disasters in the community. He was recognized by Senator Patty Richie for his service in a snow emergency that occurred. He actually saved a life based on his scout training,” he said.

Meanwhile, one law firm says it’s too soon to say if local scout councils will be involved in the filing.

Marsh Law Firm co-represents two people suing the Boy Scouts for abuses at a St. Lawrence County scout camp.

Firm founder James Marsh says the bankruptcy filing puts a freeze on lawsuits against the Boy Scouts in state courts.

"Victims and survivors in the state of New York where we have the Child Victims Act, where we have this one year period, there is not a quote, unquote opportunity to hold them accountable in a state court," he said.

But, Marsh says the Boy Scouts' move still allows victims and survivors to present their case.

"This is going to happen in a forum, in which a federal bankruptcy judge is overseeing the entire matter. This is not going to be a free for all. It's going to be a process where victims and survivors can present their claims; their claims are going to be individually considered and compensation and reconciliation is going to be made in each individual case," he said.

The filing comes six months after New York's Child Victims Act went into effect.

The law opened a one-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a lawsuit.

Marsh says the timing of the Boy Scouts' bankruptcy filing is no coincidence.

"The opening of the window through the Child Victims Act in the state of New York and through so many states across the country has been really critical in bringing this to a head to the Boy Scouts of America, to make something that was once theoretical a reality that they have to address now. Or, they're going to be subject to crippling lawsuits, in which, it would not be a reorganization bankruptcy. It would be a liquidation bankruptcy," said Marsh.

One potential outcome of the Boy Scouts' bankruptcy filing is that many names of abusers won't be released.

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