The Boy Scouts of America, fighting for survival amid a flood of sexual abuse lawsuits, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The Chapter 11 filing early Tuesday marks the start of what is expected to be one of the most complex bankruptcies in US history, lawyers tell NBC. Changes in statute-of-limitation laws in several states have led to thousands more lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as Scouts. The bankruptcy filing will put those lawsuits on hold. The organization said in a statement that Scouting programs "will continue throughout this process and for many years to come," though the AP reports that the organization may have to sell off some of its properties, including campground and hiking trails.
The organization says it plans to set up a fund to compensate all victims equally. It is expected to set a deadline for claims to be filed, the New York Times reports. "While we know nothing can undo the tragic abuse that victims suffered, we believe the Chapter 11 process, with the proposed trust structure, will provide equitable compensation to all victims while maintaining the BSA’s important mission," said BSA president Roger Mosby. Lawyers say the BSA has the names of 7,819 suspected abusers in its files. Seattle attorney Michael Pfau, whose firm represents hundreds of people who say they were abused, calls the filing a "real day of reckoning" for the Boy Scouts and their "horrible, sordid history of child abuse in the ranks." (Read more Boy Scouts of America stories.)