Boy Scouts’ record $2.46 bln sex abuse settlement upheld by judge

Reuters [London, England]

March 28, 2023

By Dietrich Knauth

A U.S. judge on Tuesday affirmed the Boy Scouts of America’s $2.46 billion settlement of decades of sex abuse claims, rejecting appeals by some of the group’s insurers and abuse claimants.

U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews in Wilmington, Delaware, ruled that the Boy Scouts agreement, which would create the largest sexual abuse settlement fund in U.S. history, was a good faith effort to resolve claims by more than 80,000 men who say they were abused as children by troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts settlement, approved in bankruptcy court in September, was supported by 86% of abuse claimants and the Boy Scouts’ two largest insurers.

The Boy Scouts organization said it was “enormously grateful” to abuse survivors who spoke out about their experiences and who voted to support the settlement.

“We look forward to the organization’s exit from bankruptcy in the near future and firmly believe that the mission of Scouting will be preserved for future generations,” Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.

The Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, a group of 18,000 sexual abuse survivors, said the agreement would bring “some justice to tens of thousands of survivors, men and woman, many of whom have been waiting decades for this day to arrive.”

A group of insurers that had challenged the settlement declined to comment.

The judge rejected insurers’ appeals that argued the Boy Scouts organization colluded with abuse claimants to shift liability to insurers.

The judge also rejected appeals by some abuse claimants who argued that the agreement improperly prevented them from suing organizations that weren’t part of the bankruptcy, including local Boy Scouts councils and the Archbishop of Guam.

The money for the settlement comes from the Boy Scouts, local councils, insurers and organizations that have chartered Scouting units and activities, including churches. The Boy Scouts also contributed additional insurance rights, which may be worth more than $4 billion, to the fund that will pay abuse claims, according to Andrews’ ruling.

The amount of money individual abuse survivors stand to gain from the bankruptcy plan ranges from $3,500 to $2.7 million, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse, where and when it occurred, and other factors.

The bankruptcy settlement addresses an existential threat to the 113-year-old organization, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2020 after several U.S. states enacted laws allowing accusers to sue over decades-old abuse allegations. The Boy Scouts organization, already facing declining membership, previously said that it might not survive without resolving those lawsuits in bankruptcy.

Reporting by Dietrich Knauth; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool