Boy Scouts Facing Hundreds of Lawsuits Alleging Sexual Abuse by Troop Leaders

The Boy Scouts has a checkered and controversial past filled with homophobia and discrimination. The organization as a whole had policies for decades against allowing homosexual or transgender people to join the Boy Scouts, although individual troops can overlook the enforcement of the policy.

In 2013, the organization finally allowed openly gay youth but it didn’t allow openly gay leaders until 2015. That change was also ultimately minuscule because it has allowed religious chartered organizations, which operate more than 70 percent of the Boy Scouts units to prohibit gay people from being adult leaders.

But now, ironically and tragically, the Boy Scouts will have to face 109 years of discrimination against homosexual and transgender people combined with financial problems and hundreds of former and current Boy Scouts alleging abuse from male troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts is already considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy from previous sexual abuse settlements that have drained their considerable financial resources. But more allegations are on the horizon as individual states have been adjusting their statute-of-limitations laws so that victims of long-ago sexual abuse can sue for damages.

New York will allow these lawsuits in August. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California have bills currently in legislation. Lawyers in these states are working on finding clients to sue the Boy Scouts who say they were molested by scoutmasters or other volunteers when they were Boy Scouts.

According to the Associated Press, Attorney Tim Kosnoff, who has led sexual abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church, said Tuesday that over the last few weeks he and his team already have 186 clients from dozens of states who want to sue the Boy Scouts for sex crimes.

The organization has already had to release around 5,000 previously confidential files regarding men accused of sex crimes while leading or volunteering with troops, but Kosnoff said 166 of his clients have accused people who haven’t been named yet. There are even more files that haven’t been made public yet.

The Boy Scouts have been compiling so-called “ineligible files” since the 1920s that list adults who have or could likely abuse the over 2 million children the organization is responsible for.

Last year, the organization filed lawsuits against six of its insurers, because the companies have refused to cover the sex abuse liabilities. But the insurers say they don’t have to cover the organization because they didn’t take enough measures to protect the youths from abusers.