Child sex abuse has been a constant topic in the news for years, with the Boy Scouts of America being one of the more recent organizations to face tens of thousands of claims that date back decades. Thanks to the newly introduced look-back windows and extension to the statute of limitations in New Jersey, more survivors of childhood sexual abuse have the opportunity to pursue legal action against their perpetrators and the Boy Scouts.
Since victims of sexual abuse often suppress the assault(s), feel extreme shame, or are convinced by their attacker that no one will believe them, it’s common for survivors to take decades before speaking out. In New Jersey, the look-back window allows survivors of any age to make a claim until November 30, 2021. This, combined with the Boy Scouts filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has resulted in an influx of childhood sex abuse claims against the organization.
Like other organizations facing mass sex abuse claims, the Boy Scouts filed for Chapter 11 due to the significant financial cost of widespread lawsuits. Part of the reorganization process during Chapter 11 requires a bankruptcy judge to sign off on a proposed settlement amount for survivors. On August 19, that settlement was approved.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein of Delaware approved a $850 million settlement agreement, marking a significant milestone towards victim compensation. The agreement outlined where the money will come from: the national organization is to contribute $250 million, with the remaining $600 million from local councils. How the funds are distributed will be based on the Boy Scouts’ Victim Compensation Trust.
How Much will Boy Scouts Pay to Victims of Sexual Abuse?
The Victim Compensation Trust was created to handle settlement allocations to survivors who suffered abuse by volunteers and employees of the Boy Scouts of America. The Trust will be used to guide how much each claimant receives with clear directives in determining those amounts.
The Victim Compensation Trust outlines factors that affect victim settlement amounts, including, but not limited to:
- The severity and type of sexual abuse.
- How long it went on.
- The state the abuse occurred in.
- If more than one victim accuses the same person.
Over 80,000 Americans have alleged abuse during their time as a Scout, many of whom are now over 60 years old. With the $850 million settlement approval, survivors in New Jersey are one step closer to being compensated for the emotional, physical, and financial impact of childhood sexual assault. They’ve been given a measure of hope to hold the Boy Scouts of America accountable for the trauma endured during their time in the program.
While the judge’s approval of the settlement agreement signals progress, opposition from the Boy Scouts’ insurers indicates there will be hurdles in the coming months. There is more that needs to happen before settlements are dispersed, and the Boy Scouts of America reaches a final bankruptcy plan.
New Jersey Sexual Abuse Claims Deadline
In 2019, the statute of limitations for civil action in sexual assault cases in New Jersey was extended. Adults who suffered childhood sexual abuse now have until age 55 or seven years from the discovery of trauma to file a lawsuit. In addition, the two-year look-back window introduced at the same time has no age limit, and victims have until November 30, 2021, to make a claim.
As the deadline approaches, survivors continue to come forward with their stories of abuse suffered at the hands of the very people supposed to provide a safe learning environment for youth. These adults were supposed to help them grow and develop valuable skills but instead left deep wounds that caused far too many survivors to face life-long struggles.
How Does Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Affect Settlements?
Chapter 11 bankruptcy has been common among organizations facing mass abuse lawsuits, including several Dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, USA Gymnastics, and Boy Scouts of America. However, Chapter 11 filings have been widely criticized by survivors of sexual abuse, advocates, and lawyers. Many believe it allows organizations to protect assets, limiting settlement amounts.
The Boy Scouts of America was created in 1910, and approximately 2.2 million children and youth aged 5 to 21 are currently in programs across the United States. The organization has around 800,000 volunteers who help run development and leadership training programs.
If you were a victim of childhood sexual abuse, hiring an experienced law firm is important. At D’Arcy Johnson Day, we have a highly qualified, compassionate team of lawyers who fight for the rights of sexual assault victims and work hard to ensure they receive the best compensation for their suffering. With the November 30, 2021, look-back window for child sex abuse survivors quickly approaching, it’s vital to learn your legal options today. Contact D’Arcy Johnson Day at (609) 641-6200 or (866) 327-2952 (toll-free) for a free consultation.
As a partner with D'Arcy Johnson Day, Andrew D'Arcy has been involved in some of the nation’s most high-profile cases and investigations. His practice includes serious automobile accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and product defect cases. Andrew has been personally responsible for numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. He has been recognized by his peers as an "AV" rated attorney, the highest possible rating given by Martindale-Hubbell publication. Andrew has been named a "Super Lawyer" by New Jersey Monthly magazine each year consistently since 2013.