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Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits

Posted at 5:49 AM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 19:01:47-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Amid a mounting pile of sexual abuse lawsuits, Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in what is considered an unprecedented move.

The 110-year-old national organization made the announcement overnight to remain in operation and provide a compensation fund for victims. While the lawsuits are on hold for now, the future of properties, including campgrounds and trails, is in question.

Hundreds of plaintiffs have been able to sue after changes in statute-of-limitation laws in several states including Tennessee.

"I think it's good for the organization," Franklin father and businessman Joshua Camp told NewsChannel 5. "I think right now the best thing that will come out of all of this is transparency."

Camp grew up as a boy scout throughout the 80's in Michigan. He credits the organization for creating camaraderie, learning life skills and being able to come out of his shell. For the past few years, he put his two young sons in the program to gain the same experience.

However, it would come to an end late last year when national membership fees spiked by more than 80 percent. Camp says he pulled his boys out based on principle. He was concerned about Boy Scouts of America’s finances and pending lawsuits.

A 2018 financial report compared numbers to the previous year. Memberships and revenues were down, and budgets for certain things like marketing were cut. The report showed salaries and insurance reserves were up.

"They made some decisions that anybody in the business community will look at and frown upon," Camp said.

Despite the current financial woes, BSA says local councils, such as Middle Tennessee Council, are legally and financially separate and independent. In a statement, Middle Tennessee Council Scout Executive Larry Brown stressed his council has not filed for bankruptcy. Meetings, activities, events and other projects will take place as usual, meaning there should be no change.

Brown continued with:

"The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is the only entity involved in the Chapter 11 filing. The Middle Tennessee Council– which provides programming, financial, facility and administrative support to local units and individual Scouts in 37 middle Tennessee Counties and Fort Campbell, Kentucky – is separate and distinct from the national organization. Our camps, properties and all local contributions are controlled by our council.

Scouting is strong in middle Tennessee, with more than 18,600 youth and 5,000 volunteer leaders. All local Scouting programs are continuing as usual. We remain as committed as ever to delivering a safe and impactful Scouting program in middle Tennessee and Fort Campbell, Kentucky."

A similar response could be heard from other councils in Tennessee including Great Smoky Mountain, Sequoyah and Chickasaw.

Camp says the national organization's bankruptcy and lawsuits only put local councils in a position to receive judgment and scrutiny. He still believes in the mission of the Boy Scouts and considers involving his songs again if the right changes are made.

Representative Jim Cooper, who is an Eagle Scout, also weighed in:

“I was shocked when I learned that the National Boy Scout organization was going bankrupt, but I am heartened that the Middle Tennessee Council is not. We are fortunate to have one of the best local organizations of Boy Scouts in America. The worst news is the abuse of any Scouts anywhere. Their cases deserve prompt justice.”