Over 600 claims of sexual abuse have been reported against Boy Scouts of America councils in coastal Connecticut and Long Island, numbers larger than previously known.
Court filings made this week during the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy hearing show the organization's financial instability after more than 300 lawsuits were filed en masse last year from men who say they were sexually abused as scouts.
The court papers include almost 84,000 worldwide unique claims of abuse. Some claims were brought by former scouts now living internationally. Not included in this number are scouts who have launched multiple lawsuits against multiple abusers.
The first claim dates back to 1905, and years from 1960 to 1990s saw more than a thousand claims a year. The highest number of claims in a year was 2,839 in 1970.
In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America declined to comment on specific allegations but said the amount of claims is representative of the areas with a higher concentration of councils.
"The number of claims related to historical instances of abuse filed in our Chapter 11 case is heartbreaking, and we steadfastly believe that one instance of abuse is too many," the statement said. "The Boy Scouts of America is committed to fulfilling our social and moral responsibility to equitably compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, while also ensuring that we carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities for years to come."
Around Long Island Sound
Nearly 280 claims were brought against the Connecticut River Council, based out of Hartford. The Yankee Council, based out of Milford, had 210 claims. The Greenwich Council had 14 claims. Former scouts filed 359 claims against the Narragansett Council that serves eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island.
On Long Island, at least 185 claims were against the Suffolk County Council, and another 175 were filed against the Theodore Roosevelt Council, one of the oldest councils in the nation from Massapequa, New York.
New York had the third highest number of claims, behind California and Texas, with 5,178, and Connecticut reported 842 total claims.
Follow The Money
Compensation for victims is included in the organization’s bankruptcy plans. Nearly 235 local councils around the U.S. would be expected to contribute money to a $300 million trust that would settle sexual abuse claims. Court documents show the amount per individual victim would be around $6,000.
Over the years, the Boy Scouts of America have created or updated its codes, called “Youth Protection.” According to the newest protection rules, all volunteers have to take Youth Protection training and need retraining every two years to remain a volunteer. There is also a five-step process, including the application, training, background checks, references and database checks to make sure the volunteer is not on any list that bars them from participating in the organization, including prior known or suspected abuse or misconduct in or outside of the organization.
Since 1980, when the first “Youth Protection” rules were created, abuse claims have gone from over 2,000 a year to roughly 10 this past year, although most of the scouts were virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the case of a reported abuse on a scout, the alleged abuser will be reported to law enforcement. The Youth Protection policy also bans all adult leaders from any one-on-one interactions including in person, online, virtually or text. The policy mandates two Youth-Protection trained leaders be with the scouts at all times.