Boy Scout Abuse Survivors React to BSA Bankruptcy


1965 newspaper photo of Plaintiff RR and brothers in acolyte clothes, singing at church

Plaintiff R.R. and his brothers in front row, taken about one year before all four abused by Scout leader Clyde Brock, in local paper

Boy Scout Abuse Survivors Have Mixed Reactions to BSA Bankruptcy

Boy Scout abuse survivors had mixed reactions to news that The Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy. Reactions range from anger to optimism from men who were sexually abused when they were kids in Boy Scouts.

“We represent dozens of men who were molested when they were in Boy Scouts,” said Gilion Dumas, an attorney based in Portland at the Dumas & Vaughn firm. “For those whose lawsuits are filed and are close to trial, bankruptcy is a shock and a disappointment, because it means more delay. But bankruptcy could mean a more efficient and less stressful way to resolve claims for those who filed their cases recently, or those who haven’t come forward yet.”

BSA’s bankruptcy does not mean Boy Scouts are going out of business. It means the organization is “reorganizing” and asking the bankruptcy court to handle all sex abuse claims. All filed lawsuits will be “stayed” or paused and transferred to the bankruptcy case. Anyone who has not filed a lawsuit yet can bring a claim in the bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy court will set a deadline for all claims.

No Jury In Oregon This Week

Plaintiff R.R. is reeling from the news. He filed a lawsuit in 2018 in Portland, Oregon against BSA and the local Cascade Pacific Council, seeking $9 million for sexual abuse by an adult Scout leader in 1967 and 1968, when he was nine and ten years old. A special jury panel was scheduled for this Friday, February 21, 2020. Trial was set to begin March 2. The bankruptcy will stay his state court case.

We were going to start picking a jury in my trial this Friday, February 21. How do I feel about the Boy Scouts filing for bankruptcy? Like I’ve been running 60 miles an hour and just hit a brick wall,” said Plaintiff R.R. “I see BSA’s bankruptcy as another betrayal. Instead of my story coming out, and the bigger story of BSA history of child molestation, the focus is going to be on BSA’s assets and a bankruptcy plan. That’s just more cover up.”

Plaintiff R.R. is now 61 years old. He lives in Oregon with his wife.

The alleged perpetrator in R.R.’s case was Clyde Brock. BSA opened an Ineligible Volunteer File (“IV File”) on Brock in 1968, after two boys in the troop accused him of abuse and identified ten other victims. The file shows that BSA allowed Brock to “resign quietly” for health reasons but agreed with a plan to recognize him at a Scout 50th anniversary celebration to “help to ally questions about his retirement.” Brock died in 2001.

Bankruptcy Claims Are Better Option for Some

On the other hand, men like Jack Doe, one of Dumas & Vaughn’s clients who has not filed a lawsuit yet, feel differently. Jack Doe was sexually assaulted by a Lewiston, Idaho adult Scout leader in the late 1960s to early 1970s, when Doe was in junior high. “I don’t mind bringing my claim against BSA in bankruptcy,” said Jack Doe. “To me, bankruptcy claims seem less stressful than court proceedings.”

Jack Doe alleges he was abused by Lawrence Libey. BSA did not create an IV File on Libey, but he was named as the perpetrator by three of the 29 men Dumas & Vaughn represented in two joint lawsuits against BSA for abuse in Idaho. The claims involving Libey settled shortly before trial last year. Libey died in 1999.

Jack Doe is now 62 and lives in Washington state.

Claims Against Related Parties Still in Play

Others worry about what BSA’s bankruptcy means for their claims against local Councils and sponsoring organizations. John Roe DZ 10 is a plaintiff in a California lawsuit filed in December against the Boy Scouts and the LDS Church. “The Mormon Church sponsored my troop and was also responsible for my abuse by my Scout leader. Being in Boy Scouts was part of growing up in the Mormon Church,” said Roe. “So I want to know if my case against the Church will go forward if my case against BSA is stayed.”

John Roe DZ 10 is one of over 20 people Dumas & Vaughn represent in sexual abuse cases in California now that the state opened a three-year window on January 1, 2020, to allow claims that had been barred by prior statutes of limitations. Roe alleges he was molested by his Scoutmaster Jeffrey Paul Miller in Simi Valley, California in 1973 when Roe was 11 years old.

Miller is still alive. It is not known if BSA ever opened an IV File on Miller. There are at least 267 BSA IV Files on known California perpetrators.

Roe is now 58 and lives in California with his wife.

“What we don’t know yet is what happens with our claims against local Councils of the Boy Scouts,” said Ashley Vaughn. Vaughn, along with her partner Gilion Dumas, represents dozens of men with lawsuits filed in Oregon, California, Montana, and others who have not filed. “Local Councils are named defendants in our cases because they failed to protect boys from dangerous predators. BSA wants its bankruptcy to stay claims against the local Councils so we can’t go forward; but doesn’t want the assets of the local Councils to go into the bankruptcy fund. That would be unfair to victims seeking compensation,” said Vaughn.

What This Means for Boy Scout Abuse Survivors

The Boy Scouts of America is not going out of business. The bankruptcy it filed is a reorganization, not a liquidation. Claims in lawsuits will continue in bankruptcy court, even if the sex abuse lawsuit is “stayed” or put on pause. Claims that have not been filed as a lawsuit yet can be brought in the bankruptcy.

Claims for childhood sexual abuse in that happened in Boy Scouts usually involve claims against related parties. These parties include local Councils of the Boy Scouts, sponsoring or “chartering” organizations, or the perpetrator. Those claims still exist. If lawsuits are already filed, those claims might be “stayed” or paused for a while, but they will move forward once the courts decides how they will be handled. Likewise, claims that have not been filed as lawsuits yet can go forward, but may be subject to procedures the courts decide.

The important thing to think about it timing. “Boy Scouts want this bankruptcy so they can get a deadline for sex abuse claims,” said Dumas. “Boy Scout abuse survivors need to know that this is the time to come forward, although it might be rough on them emotionally. We hope victims come forward to seek the compensation and justice they are due.”

Boy Scout Memorial - life size bronze statute of man, woman, and Boy Scout

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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