Associated Press [New York NY]
December 21, 2021
Congregations affiliated with the United Methodist Church have agreed to contribute $30 million to a fund for victims who say they were molested as youngsters in the Boy Scouts of America, an attorney said Tuesday.
A committee representing United Methodist churches that sponsored Scouting activities also agreed to help raise an additional $100 million for the fund.
Jessica Lauria, an attorney for the BSA, told Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein about the planned agreement during an online hearing Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. Lauria said the United Methodist-affiliated churches would receive protected party status, which means they would be released from further liability for abuse claims.
The proposed trust is expected to grow to more than $2.6 billion and would be the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history.
More than 82,000 sexual abuse claims have been filed in the bankruptcy case. Victims who say they were abused must vote by Dec. 28 on a Boy Scouts reorganization plan.
Judge Silverstein had originally scheduled a hearing starting Jan. 24 to consider the voting results and to decide whether the plan meets the requirements of the bankruptcy code and should be approved. But on Tuesday, the judge pushed the hearing start date to Feb. 22 to give attorneys more time to prepare.
Tuesday’s announcement involving United Methodist churches comes a week after attorneys said a tentative settlement was reached with one of BSA’s largest insurers, Century Indemnity Co. and affiliated companies had agreed to contribute $800 million into the fund in return for being released from further liability for abuse claims.
Other agreements involve another major Boy Scouts insurer, The Hartford, and the BSA’s former largest troop sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church. The Hartford has agreed to pay $787 million into the victims’ fund, and the Mormons have agreed to contribute $250 million. In exchange, both entities would be released from any further liability involving child sex abuse claims.
The BSA is continuing to negotiate with Roman Catholic-affiliated churches that sponsored Scouting units.
The Boy Scouts, based in Irving, Texas, sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020, seeking to halt hundreds of individual lawsuits and create a fund for victims who say they were sexually abused as children.