Boy Scouts of America weighs bankruptcy options amid sexual abuse lawsuits

The Boys Scouts of America is weighing a bankruptcy declaration amid growing costs from lawsuits over how the organization handled sexual misconduct allegations.

Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh wrote a letter to employees on Wednesday "due to the news speculation." The letter stated that the organization was "working with experts to explore all options available to ensure that the local and national programming of the Boy Scouts of America continues uninterrupted."

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Boy Scouts hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to assist with a possible bankruptcy filing. The organization, which is experiencing a decrease in membership, is facing multiple lawsuits that allege employees and volunteers exhibited inappropriate behavior as far back as the 1960s.

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would stop the pending lawsuits while the organization attempts to settle with the victims.

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"We have a social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, and we also have an obligation to carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs," Surbaugh said.

The youth organization has been accused of mishandling allegations of sexual abuse and has paid out a lot of money to "fairly" compensate victims, including for unlimited counseling no matter how much time has passed since the abuse was said to have occurred.

"Throughout our history we have taken proactive steps to help victims heal and prevent future abuse," Surbaugh said. "I want to stress that at no time in our history have we knowingly allowed a sexual predator to work with youth, and we always seek to act swiftly when alerted to abuse allegations."

Boy Scouts of America has paid millions in lawsuits, the Journal reported. It paid $7.6 million to a labor and employment law firm in 2017, $3.5 million in 2016 and $859,347 in 2015. One lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by several former leaders is set for a jury trial in May.

Boy Scouts of America is also facing an unrelated trademark lawsuit from the Girl Scouts of America, claiming its decision to allow girls in some of its programs will cause confusion and hurt Girl Scouts enrollment.

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