The Boy Scouts of America has reached an $850 million settlement with more than 60,000 men who sued the iconic institution over alleged sexual abuse by adults in scouting over several decades.
The agreement, announced on Thursday, is the first legal settlement in a long list of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020.
Ken Rothweiler, one of three lead negotiators on behalf of the men who say they were raped, molested or sexually harassed as children, called it historic.
In an emailed statement he called the deal “the largest settlement of sexual abuse claims in United States history.”
It is more than double the group’s initial proposal to victims.
Under the terms of the agreement, local councils are expected to contribute to the settlement fund. Court documents state they are required to pay at least $300 million.
Another aspect of the deal requires nonmonetary commitments to abuse victims, including youth protection measures, a reporting system, formation of a Child Protection Committee, and information sharing related to abuse claims.
Rothweiler and his law firm represent more than 16,000 alleged victims of the abuse — much of which was chronicled and recorded in an internal list of leaders preying on boys called the “perversion files” dating back to the 1940s.
“I am pleased that both the BSA and their local councils have stepped up to be the first to compensate the survivors,” Rothweiler said.
But another attorney called it a “rotten, chump deal.”
Tim Kosnoff, who actually partnered with Rothwieler and his firm as well as AVA Law to form Abused in Scouting, is livid over the announced deal, which he notes is not final until a judge signs off on it.
“I don’t know how you can characterize this as anything but a failure,” Kosnoff told NPR, adding that he only learned about the agreement after it appeared in news reports.
“I would say it is a nonstarter, and if my clients asked me if I thought it was a good deal for them I would say no,” he said.
“You’re talking about clients who, in some cases, were anally raped for years that are now supposed to get payouts of $3,500 … maybe $5,000,” Kosnoff said. “That is an insult to all of the men who found the courage to file claims and participated in this process.”
It is unclear how Kosnoff arrived at the $3,500 to $5,000 sum. However, if the settlement were divided equally among the claimants, they’d each get more than $10,000.
In a statement, BSA called the agreement “part of our ongoing efforts to reach a global resolution that will equitably compensate survivors and ensure Scouting’s future by resolving past abuse cases for both the national organization and local councils.”
“This agreement ensures that we have the overwhelming support of survivors for the BSA’s proposed Plan of Reorganization, which is a key step in the BSA’s path toward emerging from bankruptcy. Bringing these groups together marks a significant milestone and is the biggest step forward to date as the BSA works toward our dual imperatives of equitably compensating survivors of abuse and preserving the mission of Scouting.”
The group’s total assets top $1 billion and including massive tracts of land around the country, extensive holdings and financial investments, and fine art valued at $59 million according to court documents.