Law Review: Boy Scouts of America settles suits filed by sexual abuse victims


Norman Rockwell’s depiction of Boy Scouts is not the image revealed by extensive reporting conducted by the Los Angeles Times, ultimately reflected in reports issued in 2012. Google Los Angeles Times/Boy Scouts or Boy Scouts’ Perversion files.


Faced with a plethora of sexual abuse claims filed by tens of thousands of victims of scouting, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in 2020. That bankruptcy is still pending as victims’ claims continue to mount. The number of claims and payouts will dwarf the U.S. Catholic Church’s numbers. That is saying something.


As partially documented in the BSA’s internal so-called Perversion files, the organization routinely looked the other way when faced with claims of sexual misconduct. The Los Angeles Times found that BSA actually allowed convicted sex offenders to be Scout leaders refusing to conduct background checks as other similar organizations did. Verified incidents of abuse often were not reported. There is evidence BSA hierarchy tried to hide the situation.

For years the once venerable organization aggressively defended lawsuits; these days BSA is more cooperative. Boy Scouts’ leadership insists that scouting is safer now than ever before, adding that 90% of the claims against BSA occurred more than 30 years ago. Systems to prevent sexual abuse have been put in place.


BSA is facing roughly 275 abuse lawsuits and thousands more potential claims. One case settled for $850 million, which after lawyers’ fees are deducted, will be paid out to the more than 84,000 victims claiming sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1960s. It is reported the victims will receive approximately $10,000 apiece. Others involved in similar litigation have criticized that settlement saying it is woefully inadequate.

The settlement of that case is only part of the overall picture with victims seeking recovery from recalcitrant BSA insurance companies. The $850 million was paid by BSA. Substantially more is expected from BSA’s many insurance companies. There is more to be reported on this story.

While I was never a Cub Scout or Boy Scout, I have many friends who were. To my knowledge none of them suffered sexual abuse, but I really do not know. So sad.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at or

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