Boy Scouts of America will receive more than $ 1 billion from its primary insurer and Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints in a preliminary agreement to resolve allegations of sexual abuse by thousands of men who say they have been abused decades ago by Scoutmasters and Other.
Under the agreement, insurance company The Hartford will pay $ 787 million to a fund to be set up for men, the company said in a press release on Tuesday. In exchange for the payment, the scouts and their local council will completely release The Hartford from all obligations under the insurance company that issued them.
In a separate settlement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has agreed to pay $ 250 million to the Addicts Fund. The Church, based in Salt Lake City, was the largest individual sponsor of Boy Scout troops before ending its long-standing partnership with the organization early last year.
“This has been a long process that included — as one of many interested parties — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a former sponsoring organization. This contribution will provide opportunities to alleviate the suffering of those who have been abused, ”Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuses of all kinds. We express our love and concern for those who have experienced abuse through scouting or some other circumstance. ”
The proposed settlements are part of an ongoing effort by scouts, who declared bankruptcy in February 2020, to create a reorganization plan that must win the approval of a majority of victims of assault and the court. Lawyers are still trying to negotiate a deal with the scouts’ other major insurer, Century Indemnity, according to the Associated Press.
The agreement in principle with The Harford was reached in connection with Boy Scout’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be a final settlement under certain conditions, including the implementation of a final settlement agreement, confirmation of the Scouts’ global resolution plan, receipt of completed releases from local councils, and approval from the Bankruptcy Court as part of the Scouts’ overall reorganization plan.
An official victims’ committee appointed by the US trustees in bankruptcy opposes the deal, as do law firms that separately represent hundreds of men who have claimed sexual abuse. Representatives of the official victims’ committee described the proposed settlements as “grossly unfair” AP reported.
“The only winners in the latest proposal are the Scouts, their local councils, the Mormon Church and the Hartford Insurance Company,” said Michael Pfau, a lawyer whose firm represents more than 1,000 bankruptcy addicts, in a prepared statement.
“The scouts offer survivors of abuse a fraction of what their affairs are worth and the resources available to pay them,” Pfau added. “The Mormon Church is reported to have about $ 100 billion in assets, but it offers an incredible $ 250 million to compensate the thousands of survivors who were abused in Mormon Scout troop by Mormon leaders.”
The new deal with The Hartford was negotiated after the bankruptcy judge last month rejected two key provisions in a $ 850 million deal the scouts had reached with lawyers representing a majority of addicts, according to the AP.
Judge Laura Selber Silverstein denied the scouts’ request as part of the deal for permission to withdraw from a previous $ 650 million deal it had reached with The Hartford. The boys’ scouts tried to withdraw from that April agreement after abuse claim attorneys repeatedly insisted that their clients never vote for a reorganization plan that included it.
Silverstein also rejected a proposal that scouts pay millions of dollars in legal fees and costs for lawyers employed by a coalition of law firms representing tens of thousands of addicts. The judge noted that such a payment would come out of the pockets of addicts themselves, the AP reported.
The new deal with The Hartford was a product of negotiations involving lawyers representing an ad hoc group called the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice. Law firms affiliated with the group represent more than 60,000 claims of sexual abuse.
“This is a very important development,” said Ken Rothweiler, whose law firm is affiliated with the coalition and represents about 16,800 addicts.
The proposed deals, along with the $ 850 million grant from scouts and local councils, would bring the drug addict’s fund to nearly $ 1.9 billion, according to the AP. If approved, the plan would represent one of the largest settlements for sexual assault in U.S. history.