A boy looks over the Norman Rockwell exhibition at the Mormon Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
The sexual abuse scandal roiling the bankrupt Boy Scouts of America is on track to dwarf a similar scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.
Men and boys who were abused as Scouts face a deadline: They must file claims with the court by 2 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, Nov. 16, to be eligible for redress through a victims’ compensation fund. But while the BSA was expecting some 12,000 men to step forward, the number is many, many times that, casting a darker cloud over the resolution of its bankruptcy proceedings.
“It’s going to easily reach 40,000, maybe even 50,000,” said Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones, who sued the Boy Scouts on behalf of an Oregon man a decade ago — leading to the release of the “Perversion Files,” details of alleged sexual abuse secretly kept by the Boy Scouts for decades, as well as a $19.9 million verdict for the former Scout.
Those files revealed two things that will be the organization’s legacy, Mones said: That the Boy Scouts of America knew about sexual abuse in its ranks for decades, and that it didn’t alert the people who most desperately needed to know — parents and their children.
“The image of the Boy Scouts, when this is all said and done, is going to be very different from the Norman Rockwell paintings,” Mones said. “Just the numbers of men coming forward — I’ve been handling these cases for years, and, even for me, it’s just staggering.”
Christopher Hurley, another attorney handling BSA cases with Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, is similarly stunned. “They grossly underestimated the number of victims out there,” Hurley said. “There was a complete failure to recognize and address the fact that pedophiles were targeting their troops and using their system to victimize boys.”
Andrew Van Arsdale, a lead attorney with AbusedInScouting.com, has been watching the internal claims numbers come back when his firm’s filings have been accepted by the court. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 70,000 men saying ‘I was abused under your care, my life was forever altered and I want you to make good on your word,’ ” he said. “It dwarfs what happened in the Catholic Church.”
Data on major sexual abuse settlements by the Catholic Church, kept by BishopAccountability.org, list about 5,700 victims in the United States. Others put the total at more than 10,000 and more allegations pour in each year, with more than 4,400 new abuse reports in 2019, according to the most recent annual report from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The church typically finds about half of the allegations credible.
The cost? For the six years from 2014 to 2019, the Catholic Church spent more than $1.1 billion on settlements and support for victims, as well as attorneys fees and related costs, according to the report.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment