More than 350 child sexual abuse allegations have been filed against Suffolk and Nassau district councils of the Boy Scouts of America. This emerges from court files released last week as part of the scouts’ proposed bankruptcy plan.
The record quantifies for the first time the breadth and extent of alleged abuse of boys by Boy Scout leaders and volunteers on Long Island and across the state. The allegations date back to the turn of the 20th century, with the first allegation dating back to 1905.
The Tort Claimants Committee, the bankruptcy body tasked with advancing the interests of abuse survivors, reported 185 sexual abuse filings against Medford-based Suffolk County Council and 175 filings against Theodore Roosevelt Council, one of the oldest in the Landes, were set up scout organizations based in Massapequa.
5,178 lawsuits have been filed across the state against the Boy Scouts of America, their local councils and sponsorship organizations – a number of legal experts consider this minor as many victims have died or have refused to make their allegations.
The decades-long allegations were made possible when the New York Child Victims Act opened a window for lawsuits from victims of child sexual abuse who were previously excluded by the statute of limitations.
“It’s a staggering number of abuse victims on Long Island, but if you step back and look at the Boy Scouts bankruptcy nationally, there are nearly 85,000 claims,” said Michael Pfau of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC, who represents 1,000 men, including 17 from Long Island who claim to have been molested by Boy Scout leaders and volunteers. “That’s a shocking number … Nearly 400 abuse survivors have made claims [on Long Island] is proof of how terrible the problem was. “
In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America declined to comment on Long Island’s allegations, but said the proportion of abuse claims correlated with areas where there are higher concentrations of scouting programs.
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“The number of historical abuse claims filed in our case in Chapter 11 is heartbreaking, and we strongly believe that one abuse case is too many,” the statement said. “The Boy Scouts of America are committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibilities to equitably compensate victims mistreated while scouting while ensuring that we are fulfilling our mission, youth, families and local communities to serve for years. “”
The statement stated that the “vast majority” of abuse claims are against their “youth protection” program, which was set up to protect boy scouts. The program was originally introduced in the 1980s before being updated again in 2003, 2008 and 2018.
Safeguards include criminal background checks and training for adult managers and employees, the mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to law enforcement agencies, and a ban on adult personal interaction with children.
The bankruptcy reorganization, which was brought before a Delaware court last week, sees 253 community councils donating a combined $ 300 million to a trust to settle sexual abuse claims. In return, the Boy Scouts want the court to dismiss hundreds of pending lawsuits against the organization and its councils and grant them immunity from future lawsuits.
The plan, which would allow the continued deployment of local troops and national adventure camps, did not specify which councils would contribute to the fund.
Pfau called the proposal “absolutely inadequate” and argued it would pay victims just over $ 6,000 on average – barely enough, in most cases, to reimburse therapy costs.
“It’s unacceptable and not realistic,” said Peacock. “And it won’t happen.”
New York ward councils have assets of more than $ 80 million, including $ 13.3 million from Theodore Roosevelt Council and $ 1.3 million from Suffolk Council.
To fund the trust, the BSA agreed to contribute its collection of Norman Rockwell paintings, a warehouse in North Carolina, a Scouting University facility in Texas, rights to oil and gas shares in real estate in 17 states, and unlimited cash over $ 75 million for sale minimum.
Suffolk Council announced this week that it will sell its 14,400 square foot headquarters in Medford to help fund the settlement.
“The building is the greatest unrestricted good we have and it is debt free,” said David Hunt, president of the council, in a statement. “We are confident that we can secure replacement office space for the council to operate so we can all continue our programs without interruption. Hopefully the proceeds of the sale will allow us to meet bankruptcy requirements.”
The Texas-based Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020 amid a wave of allegations from former scouts that they were molested decades ago by Boy Scout leaders and adult volunteers.
The councils that carry out the day-to-day operations for local troops are not listed as debtors in bankruptcy, and the Boy Scouts view them as legally separate entities, even though they share insurance policies and are “related parties” in the event of bankruptcy.
Before filing for bankruptcy, the BSA had been named in around 275 lawsuits and informed the insurers that it was aware of a further 1,400 claims. The number of lawsuits more than tripled last year to around 860 cases in more than 110 state and federal courts.
With the Associated Press
Robert Brodsky is a breaking news reporter who has been with Newsday since 2011. He is a graduate of Queens College and American University.