Will Child Sex Abuse Claims Bankrupt the Boy Scouts?

Boy Scout MoneyMost people have only positive feelings towards the Boy Scouts of America. But the 30 men and women we currently represent, and the many we represented in the past, who were sexually molested as kids by their Scoutmasters, feel betrayed and hurt by this trusted and hallowed national institution.

When my law firm represents these brave abuse survivors in civil lawsuits against the Boy Scouts, they seek justice and accountability in the one way our legal system provides for, which is money damages. But they do not seek vengeance and they do not seek to bankrupt the Boy Scouts.

Even if all the victims of child sex abuse within the Boy Scouts sued – and based on the thousands of Boy Scout “Ineligible Volunteer Files” on pedophile volunteers, there are thousands of Scouts who were molested in Scouting – the BSA would not go bankrupt. The BSA is an enormously wealthy organization.

The Boy Scouts of America is a one-and-a-half billion dollar corporation with its national headquarters in Irving, Texas, outside Dallas. According to the corporation’s latest tax return and audited financial statements from 2013, the BSA had total assets at the end of 2013 of just over $1.5 billion and net assets after expenses of over $930 million, up over $60 million from the year before.

Consider also the following information, all available in the 2013 BSA Treasurer’s Report:

  • The BSA has a “General Liability Insurance Program of the National Council” that provides insurance coverage for civil lawsuits against the BSA and state Scout Councils.
  • As part of BSA’s Insurance Program, BSA has a reserve fund set aside to pay claims, including sex abuse claims, of just over $150 million as of the end of 2013. BSA only needs to dip into this fund if outside insurance doesn’t cover a claim.
  • As of the end of 2013, BSA had over $850 million invested in the stock market and other liquid assets. BSA’s asset sheet does not include its collection of fine art appraised in March 2012 at approximately $60 million.
  • The BSA owns real estate listed on its balance sheet as worth over $460 million. However, because most of the real estate was donated, this figure hugely under-represents the the real value of the land because it is based on the value as of the date it was donated. For example, Philmont Scout Ranch is located on 127,395 gorgeous, mountainous acres in New Mexico and is listed on BSA’s books at the value of the land back when Waite Phillips gave it to the Boy Scouts in the 1930s.
  • Each year, BSA’s largest source of income is the sale of branded merchandise it calls “Scout Stuff” including uniforms and Scout Handbooks, but also including sportswear, gear, gift items, and novelty goods. In 2013, BSA sold over $150 million of logo products.

All this information is available on the Boy Scout’s web site, in their own financial documents. So it is easy to see that allowing victims to seek compensation for the wrongs done to them will not put a dent in the BSA’s financial situation. The claims won’t drive the BSA to bankruptcy – they won’t even affect Scout operations.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. The Boy Scouts say so themselves in their 2013 Treasurer’s Report. The BSA acknowledges that they face lawsuits “alleging sexual abuse, including claims for punitive damages.” The claims should be covered by insurance or the reserve fund, but even if they are not, BSA concludes, “it is the opinion of the National Council that the total amount of payments in resolution of those lawsuits will not have a significant impact on the financial position or results of operations” of the Boy Scouts of America.

There it is. Paying money damages to Scouts who were sexually abused and exploited by Scout volunteers will not financially affect the BSA.

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

newspaper templates - theme rewards