Boy Scouts leaders say bankruptcy won’t affect local activities

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

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(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Several local Boy Scouts of America chapters said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing Tuesday by the national organization following $150 million in sex-abuse settlements should have little impact on local chapters.

“The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is the only entity involved in the Chapter 11 filing,” the Miami Valley Council, which represents Scouts in the Dayton area, said in a release. “The Miami Valley Council – which provides programming, financial, facility and administrative support to local units and individual Scouts in our area – is separate and distinct from the national organization.”

The 110-year-old organization faces hundreds of additional sex-abuse lawsuits in which lawyers are seeking settlements for several thousand men who say they were molested as Scouts by scoutmasters or other leaders decades ago.

Tecumseh Council Scout Executive Robert Lavoie said victims should be compensated, and pointed to new victim resources recently established at the BSA national level. Tecumseh Council covers troops in Logan, Champaign, Clark, Greene and Clinton counties.

But Lavoie said local meetings and activities, district and council events, other Scouting adventures and service projects will take place as usual.

“Scouting is safer now than ever before,” Lavoie said in a statement. “Over many years, we’ve developed some of the strongest expert-informed youth protection policies found in any youth-serving organization. I can also assure you that our volunteers and employees take youth protection extremely seriously and do their part to help keep kids safe

The Chapter 11 filing in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, sets in motion what could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen. Scores of lawyers are seeking settlements now because their clients are only now eligible to sue because of recent changes in their states’ statute-of-limitations laws.

By going to bankruptcy court, the Scouts can put those lawsuits on hold for now. But ultimately they could be forced to sell off some of their vast property holdings, including campgrounds and hiking trails, to raise money for a compensation trust fund that could surpass a billion dollars.

The bankruptcy petition listed the Boy Scouts’ assets as between $1 billion and $10 billion, and its liabilities at $500 million to $1 billion.

“We sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed in Scouting,” said Roger Mosby, the BSA’s president and CEO. “In addition to implementing strong policies to prevent abuse, we are dedicated to supporting victims when and how they need it.”

Related (2019) Local Scout leaders say measures in place to protect children

In February 2013, an Arizona man, Thomas Abner, 26, sued the Boy Scouts, claiming his former scoutmaster, Steven Woodard — who is now deceased — abused him at a local hotel during a family vacation to Kings Island in Mason. Abner’s attorney, Konrad Kircher, claimed Woodard abused Abner more than 300 times during a 3½-year period.

Kircher said the bankruptcy filing will have no impact on his client who settled with the Boy Scouts in 2014, because the money was paid out long ago. The settlement amount was confidential.

During Abner’s case, Kircher worked with Oregon attorneys Kelly Clark and Paul Mones, who were the lead attorneys in the 2010 trial against the BSA that resulted in a $19.5 million verdict. That case also forced the public release of the Boy Scout’s internal “perversion” files on known pedophiles.

There are 1,892 names on that list that dates back to 1971, and 78 were from Ohio, including several from Cincinnati and Dayton.

Related (2014) Boy Scout sex case settled 

Representing the Dan Beard Council, Scout executive and CEO, Andy Zahn, said there is no scenario under consideration in which the Dan Beard Council will file for a Chapter 11 financial restructuring. Dan Beard Council covers Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Clermont and Brown counties and seven counties in Kentucky.

“Scouting in our region is strong, and we will continue to serve local families with a program of character building, citizenship training, and leadership development that instills values for a lifetime,” Zahn said.

Miami Valley Council Scout Executive and CEO Jeffrey Schiavone, said the Miami Valley Council is financially strong and has no debt.

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“The Miami Valley Council celebrated a fantastic 2019, where we experienced membership growth and 130 young men achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank a youth can attain,” Schiavone said. “Additionally, only one year after Scouting opened the program to serve both boys and girls ages 5 to 17, more than 300 girls joined. This is 100 more than our initial expectations.”

Tecumseh Council also reported an increase in Scouting membership in 2019.

“The volunteers we have here in Tecumseh Council are some of the best trained volunteers,” Lavoie said. “We’re here to make sure that the safety of our youth come first. … Any instance of abuse inside Scouting or anywhere in our society is one too many and should not be condoned.”

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