It could be the biggest sexual abuse scandal in the United States. 95,000 complaints of sexual abuse among the Boy Scouts of America were filed between February and Monday, November 17, the deadline for benefiting from a compensation fund set up by the country’s main scouting organization.
These figures, which reveal the extent of alleged abuses committed over decades by Scout leaders, significantly outweigh the complaints made in recent years against Catholic clergy. “To our knowledge, there have been 11,000 complaints globally against the Catholic Church”, eight times less than among the Boy Scouts, noted Andrew Van Arsdale, member of a team of lawyers who represent the victims of these abuse. Another victim’s lawyer, Paul Moses points out that scouting had long offered a “perfect” environment for pedophiles: “boys take an oath of loyalty, are estranged from their parents, and isolated in the countryside.”
The courage “of those who have come out of silence”
“We are horrified by the number of lives that have suffered from past abuse among Scouts and touched by the courage of those who have come out of silence,” Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said in a statement, without confirming the figures. “We had voluntarily opened an easy-to-access process to help victims claim compensation. Their response is heartbreaking, we are sincerely sorry,” adds this organization, founded in 1910 and which has approximately 2.2 million elderly members. from 5 to 21 years old.
Plagued by accusations of sexual abuse which have already given rise to costly lawsuits, she filed for bankruptcy in February in order to freeze all compensation claims filed by former boy scouts in court and redirect them to a compensation fund. The American Scouts, who estimate their assets at more than $ 1 billion, have not indicated how much they intend to spend on the fund.
Negotiations will now begin between the groups of victims, Boy Scouts of America and their insurers to determine the amounts to be allocated. “The scouts are probably going to have to sell some of their properties”, it is a “complicated” process that could take a year or two, according to Mr. Moses who, in 2010, had obtained nearly 20 million dollars for a former boy scout abused by his boss.
The verdict of this trial had also resulted in the publication of secret archives, nicknamed the “files of perversion”, which contained the names of thousands of scout leaders, suspected of having committed sexual assaults on the children in their care. . Most had never been reported to the authorities, the organization confined itself to removing them. The lawsuits have since multiplied against Boy Scouts of America, in particular after the extension by several states of the limitation periods for pedophile assaults.
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