Boy Scouts of America reach $850 million settlement with sexual abuse victims
Boy Scouts of America (Twitter)

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced on Friday that they have reached an $850 million settlement with tens of thousands of victims of sexual abuse by scout leaders.

The BSA said the agreement with the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice was negotiated as part of the bankruptcy filing by the youth organization.

The BSA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020 after revelations of decades of sexual abuse of boys in US scouting circles emerged in 2012.

"This agreement ensures that we have the overwhelming support of survivors for the BSA's proposed Plan of Reorganization, which is a key step in the BSA's path toward emerging from bankruptcy," the BSA said in a statement.

The group described the move as the "biggest step forward to date as the BSA works toward our dual imperatives of equitably compensating survivors of abuse and preserving the mission of Scouting."

The agreement calls for the BSA's national organization to contribute assets worth up to $250 million to a trust that will provide compensation to survivors of abuse.

Local scout councils would contribute cash and properties worth $500 million to the trust and another $100 million to a separate trust funded with money otherwise designated for pension plans.

The settlement still needs the approval of a bankruptcy judge and has not been signed off on by all abuse victims, although the BSA said the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice represents "a large majority of claimants."

The agreement is also facing opposition from insurance companies.

"There is still much to be done to obtain approval from the Court to solicit survivors to vote for the BSA's amended Plan of Reorganization," the BSA said.

"However, with this encouraging and significant step forward, the BSA is wholeheartedly committed to working toward a global resolution," it said.

"Our intention is to seek confirmation of the Plan this summer and emerge from bankruptcy late this year."

Nearly 100,000 victims of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts have come forward, Paul Moses, a lawyer for the victims, told AFP in November.

The figure dwarfs the roughly 11,000 complaints believed to have been filed in recent years against the Catholic Church.

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910 and based in Irving, Texas, has 2.2 million members between the ages of five and 21.