Many adults today suffered childhood sexual abuse during their experiences with the Boy Scouts of America (now known as Scouts BSA). Some may wonder if they can still sue the organization for compensation and justice. Unfortunately, this question requires a case-specific analysis that depends on various factors.
Statute of limitations
Sexual assault laws generally have built-in time limits known as the statute of limitations. This limit different in every state. For example, in Florida, childhood based sexual abuse has seven years after the victim turns 18, or four years after the victim discovers the abuse caused an injury, whichever is later. Some other states have lifted their statutes of limitations specifically for lawsuits against the Scouts BSA and other institutions because of the wave of litigation that has occurred over the past decade.
Another factor is the Scouts BSA’s bankruptcy proceedings. The organization filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of 2020, which can affect a victim’s ability to sue.
That Chapter 11 bankruptcy stopped all pending and future lawsuits against the organization, but the bankruptcy created a trust fund that would compensate survivors of the abuse that made their claim by November 16, 2020. Over 82,000 claims were filed. In mid-2021, the Scouts BSA settled with about 70% of the claimants for $850 million ($250 million from the trust fund and $600 million from local councils).
Can I still sue the Scouts BSA for sexual assault?
Maybe. That depends on you and the facts of your case. If you can prove that you did not know of your injury or that something prevented you from filing (like fraud or duress) your claim may be barred. Even if you did file, you may still need to fight for adequate compensation outside of the settlement agreement.