(ABC4) – Attorney Tim Kosnoff represents 17,000 victims who have filed claims of sexual abuse against the Boy Scouts.
Those claims are part of Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) bankruptcy filing, which comprises more than 80,000 victim claims in all.
According to the Associated Press, two of the major changes in the B.S.A.’s new plan are settlement agreements involving one of the organization’s major insurers, The Hartford, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Hartford has agreed to pay $787 million into a fund to be established for abuse claimants. The church, the largest single sponsor of Scout troops before ending its partnership with the B.S.A. early last year, has agreed to contribute $250 million.
In exchange for the payments, both entities would be released from any further liability involving child sex abuse claims filed by men who said they were molested decades ago by scoutmasters and others.
“That’s rubbish, that’s totally inadequate,” scoffs Kosnoff, who says total victim claims are around $110 billion.
Kosnoff says he estimates 15-20 percent of all victims were Scouts under church-sponsored troops. The church, he says, had an outsized influence in scouting – a connection spanning a century that infused Boy Scouts of America with a culture that kept accusations of sex abuse quiet.
“The Boy Scouts weren’t interested in dealing with the problem,” says Kosnoff.
“They weren’t interested in protecting kids,” he adds.
Roughly 20 years ago, Kosnoff obtained documents that are now called the “Perversion Files.” The internal documents, which span decades, are “ineligible volunteer record sheets” that detail why an adult volunteer shouldn’t be allowed in scouting. These papers are a snapshot, he says — not a full outline of all victims but roughly two thousand cases with supporting documentation.
ABC4 examined the documents, compiled online by the Los Angeles Times, and found 86 cases involving Utah scout leaders.
In one case, dating back to 1976, a Scout leader and member of the church was accused of child molestation inside a tent while camping.
The man’s Bishop knew about it – along with allegations of the scout leader molesting other children – but according to the scouting document, the Bishop, “…feels that because of the confidential nature of his position . . . he cannot release copies of this information.”
Kosnoff says more than 70,000 chartering organizations are implicated in the bankruptcy proceedings, and the only way to be free of legal liability is through a “substantial contribution.”
Kosnoff says B.S.A. has agreed to the $250 million church offer, but it’s next up for a judge to rule on whether to put the number to a vote from victims. Two-thirds of victims must agree, and Kosnoff says that’s not going to happen.
Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wrote this in an emailed statement:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuse of any kind. We express our love and concern for those who have experienced abuse through Scouting or any other circumstance. This has been a prolonged process that included—as one of many interested parties—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a former sponsoring organization. This contribution will provide opportunities to alleviate the suffering of those who have experienced abuse.”