With Hulu’s latest documentary on BSA, Leave No Trace: A Hidden Scout History, nearly ready for its theatrical and online release, there have been a slew of questions surrounding the prolific organization, also known as the Boy Scouts of America, one of the oldest active institutions, which has more than ‘a century.
Irene Taylor will attempt to uncover the dark moments of BSA sexual assaults and cover-ups in the upcoming film, which has touched more than 82,000 Boy Scouts over the decades. The organization also reportedly actively hid and protected perpetrators within its ranks for years.
Although sexual abuse claims continued to pile up for a long time, by 2018 cases had spiked to the point that BSA insurance companies began to deny payments. This, coupled with declining membership numbers and widespread negative coverage, led to the BSA filing for bankruptcy in Delaware court.
Reasons for BSA’s bankruptcy filing
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the oldest institutions founded in 1910. With over 1.2 million members, it is one of the largest Scouting institutions in the world. However, over the past decade, multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, abuse and rape have surfaced against the organization, with the number now numbering over 82,000.
The organization had been planning to file for bankruptcy since 2018, when multiple lawsuits were filed by hundreds of victims across the country, amid a failing membership and negative media coverage. After a long legal battle, the BSA reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2020 under pressure from a growing number of sexual abuse complaints. Insurance companies also withdrew their support, refusing to pay for malpractice within the BSA.
BSA is said to have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which involves reorganizing a business and keeping it alive to pay the party involved over time. The Boy Scouts addressed victims of abuse in an open letter, which read:
“I am outraged that individuals have taken advantage of our programs to commit these heinous acts. I am also outraged that there have been times when volunteers and staff ignored our procedures or condoned unforgivable transgressions. In some cases , this has led to tragic acts of abuse.While these cases have been limited, they mean that we have not done enough to protect the children in our care — to protect you.
It was signed by BSA Chairman Jim Turley. He continued:
“On my behalf and on behalf of the entire Scouting community: I am sorry. I am devastated that there have been times in the past where we have failed the children we were meant to protect.”
The court then gave a deadline for the victims to come forward and file a lawsuit. This time the number rose to 82,000 victims out of the initial 300.
Leave No Trace: A Hidden Scout History will examine this endemic history of abuse and the subsequent cover-up measures the organization has taken to protect perpetrators of sexual violence. The organization would also have kept a record of these cases in a file, which would have been called the “perversion files”. Despite all this, the organization refused to act meaningfully when it mattered.
Paul Mones, a Los Angeles attorney who represents numerous abuse victims in this case, said:
“If the largest youth organization by far in the United States can be crippled under the weight of doing nothing about their sexual abuse allegations and covering up the problem, I think that’s a wake-up call to all the churches and youth organizations and schools that have this problem and are not proactively taking action to address it,”
The Boy Scouts of America would pay a $2.7 billion settlement to survivors of the abuse.
Leave No Trace: A Hidden Scout History will air on June 16, 2022.