If you think 2020 isn’t going well for you, take a look at the Boy Scouts: it’s estimated that up to 50,000 victims of child sexual abuse could come forward in the Chapter 11 Boy Scout bankruptcy.
Survivors until November 15 to file paperwork and join the bankruptcy, which I predict will uncover decades of the facilitation and cover-up of the sexual abuse of boys.
The November 15 deadline is called a “bar date,” and it’s a line in the sand drawn by the bankruptcy courts. The Scouts filed for Chapter 11 protections back in February, due to declining sign-ups and a flood of child sex abuse cases.
Anyone who comes forward after November 15 cannot join the bankruptcy proceedings. It’s arbitrary and it’s awful, but it’s the way it is.
“But the Scouts do so much good work, Joelle”
I know I am going to get a lot of pushback from parents who will say, “But there was no abuse in OUR troop. Why are you painting all of the Scouts with your black brush?”
Here is my response: Let’s say that the numbers show us that one-in-twenty boys in the Scouts was sexually abused. (Remember, less than one-in-twenty survivors of abuse will even come forward in the bankruptcy).
Are you willing to let your son be “the one” and throw the Scouts a bone?
I didn’t think so.
All of the “good works” don’t make up for a single one of the tens of thousands of boys who were sent to the lions.
(And here’s a *spoiler alert*: If you took your “very safe” troop anywhere where they encountered other troops and adults, they were at risk.)
I know someone who was abused in the Boy Scouts. How do I help them?
Normally, my advice is to “meet survivors where they are.” That is, be a source of support, a listening ear, and a non-judgmental positive force.
For general information on how to help a survivor who is coming forward, you can read my free e-book, “The Compassionate Response.”
Unfortunately, this situation is different.
- If you know a survivor who is coming to terms with their abuse, you need to let them know that this November 15 deadline is looming. It will not be extended. After the 15th, survivors will (most likely) not be able to expose their abuse in the courts or get compensation for counseling, etc.
- Let the survivor know that the deadline is a paperwork deadline. In a bankruptcy proceeding, they will not have to give a deposition or testify in court by November 15 (and, most likely, they won’t at all). They will not have to face the person who abused them.
- Tell the survivor that they have options and should talk to a lawyer ASAP. Survivors can file their own “notice of claim,” but I do not recommend that. It’s complicated and the process is not survivor friendly or trauma-informed. There are lawyers who specialize in child sexual abuse cases who can help them: good lawyers charge a standard percentage (usually 33%) of the survivor’s final award. The survivor will pay nothing out of pocket. You can watch this video on how to choose a good civil attorney. The Boy Scouts have hired teams of lawyers to make sure that few survivors as possible are able to exercise their rights. A survivor should not go into the shark tank without someone fighting for them.
- Show the survivor that they can reach out to me for help. They can contact me though the blog here or my website. No one should have to embark on this journey alone.