Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America took a turn for a questionable future as it filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. With mounting allegations of sexual abuse, the effort to file bankruptcy is the organization’s attempt to create the Victims Compensation Trust. The organization has already $150 million in legal fees and settlements for victims between 2017 and 2019. With the bankruptcy proceedings at hand, victims who have yet to come forward now have until November 16 to file a claim for compensation. After this date, individuals will be unable to file a lawsuit against Boy Scouts of America.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO FILE A SEXUAL ABUSE CLAIM?
Survivors are encouraged to come forward, no matter when the abuse took place. If you were abused by someone connected to the Boy Scouts of America, and you have already filed a lawsuit, you are still welcome to file a claim. If you already reported the abuse in some other fashion, you are encouraged to still file a claim. If you have never filed a lawsuit or reported the abuse you suffered, you are absolutely encouraged to file a claim. Even if you received some sort of settlement in the past, but you have had additional claims since then, you should file another claim. Additionally, victims are encouraged to disregard any hesitation they may feel due to a statute of limitations. Basically, in all scenarios, you are strongly urged to file your claim now while you have the chance. After November 16, the option to file will go away entirely.
It is important to note that sexual abuse victims do not have to be current or former scouts. Victims can include anyone who was assaulted by anyone else that was associated with Boy Scouts of America. The victims may include scouts, scout leaders, or other volunteers. The accused may include scout leaders, directors, or other volunteers. Those involved may have been part of the Explorer Program, Venturing Program, Sea Scouting, or Club Scouts.
WHAT IS A LOOK-BACK WINDOW?
Those who are worried that the abuse happened too long ago to matter in the court of law should take comfort in the growing trend of look-back windows. This opportunity opens a window of time for anyone to speak up and file a claim about the sexual abuse that was endured as a child. In most states that are now offering look-back windows, there is a specific amount of time that the window is open. For example, New York currently has a look-back window open that closes in January of 2021. Arizona is doing the same, and its window closes in December of this year.
CAN I FILE ANOTHER TYPE OF ABUSE CLAIM AGAINST BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA?
Yes, you are encouraged to file a General Proof of Claim form for any other type of abuse you experienced from someone associated with Boy Scouts of America. This includes, but is not limited to, physical abuse, emotional abuse, bullying, or hazing.
HOW DO I FILE A SEXUAL ABUSE CLAIM?
To file a claim, you can start by completing a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim form. This form and others can be found at the Boy Scouts of America web page. The page details specific information regarding the claims process and deadlines to keep in mind.
THEY CAN BE FILED ONLINE OR BY MAIL TO:
BSA Claims Processing
c/o Omni Agent Solutions
5955 De Soto Ave., Suite 100
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
WHAT IF I AM UNCOMFORTABLE FILING A CLAIM?
The good news is that there is no harm in filing a claim. If, for some reason, you claim is not approved, the worst that will happen is that you will not receive any compensation. Other than that, there is no penalty or consequence. By filing a claim form, you are helping to establish a record of abuse, if nothing else. The form itself will ask you general information about yourself, and it will also ask you for details about the abuse. The details include questions about when and where the abuse took place, who abused you, and how long the abuse lasted. You are not penalized for your answers, and it is okay if you can only answer to the best of your ability and memory.
DO I NEED A LAYWER TO FILE?
You can file an abuse claim without a lawyer, but having one on your side can only help. No one expects this to be an easy or simple process for you. The benefit of having a trusted lawyer on your side is that he or she will be able to navigate your moves without the weight of emotion. Filing a claim against an abuser can bring up repressed emotion, and it can be incredibly beneficial to have an objective legal professional by your side as you process it all. Contact us today at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh to get started on filing your claim before November 16.