Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A ruling is expected soon in a bankruptcy case involving the Boy Scouts of America


Just a warning here - this story contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. Over a period of seven decades and across the nation, the Boy Scouts of America have faced repeated accusations of sexual abuse. More than two years ago, the organization was hit with hundreds of lawsuits from former Scouts who say they were sexually abused by Scout leaders. A Delaware judge will soon rule on the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. It would provide more than $2.7 billion to over 82,000 claimants.

Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Seventy-year-old John Sakowicz went on his first Boy Scout overnight trip with his good friend, Patrick Quinn, back when he was 12 years old in 1965. Instead of a lovely night in the outdoors, it was an unimaginable horror.

JOHN SAKOWICZ: I was abused. I was raped, anally penetrated when I was 12 years old. I was a student at an elementary school in New City, N.Y.

GOODWYN: Both boys say they were brutally raped by the Boy Scout leader. Sakowicz's friend Patrick was so devastatingly traumatized, he drank himself to death as fast as he could, dying of liver failure at the age of 18. Sakowicz, too, has never really recovered.

SAKOWICZ: I had been accepted to Johns Hopkins University, attended the first semester, survived a suicide attempt, dropped out of college for the next three or four years. And my life has been very disrupted by that early childhood trauma ever since that time.

GOODWYN: If the settlement proposal is approved, the National Boy Scouts of America would provide a little less than 10% of the $2.7 billion settlement to the abuse victims. Two hundred fifty local Boy Scout councils would provide more than half a billion dollars, and the two largest insurance companies, The Hartford and Century Indemnity, more than $1.5 billion. Finally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will provide a quarter of a billion for claims involving the church.

ADAM SLATER: I mean, I handle a lot of sexual abuse cases. This one is just on another level, again, because of the national scale and how long it went on.

GOODWYN: Adam Slater is a founding partner at Slater Slater Schulman, which is representing more than 14,000 Boy Scout victim survivors. Ken Rothweiler, Slater's colleague, is also on the Boy Scout case.

KEN ROTHWEILER: We were satisfied with the trial because we thought it went well for the survivors' group. We're hopeful that almost any day now we're going to get a decision from the court.

GOODWYN: Lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America declined to talk on the record before the judge's ruling but appear mostly satisfied with the proposed settlement.

SAKOWICZ: I will have myself a good cry.

GOODWYN: John Sakowicz says he'll be remembering Patrick Quinn back before that terrible night in 1965 when they went on their first Boy Scout trip.

SAKOWICZ: Through every day of this proceeding, I've remembered my friend Patrick. You know, this is a case that brings closure and justice to survivors. But I know one kid, at least, who did not survive.

GOODWYN: The ruling by Delaware Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein will probably be soon. The case is then expected to be appealed to federal court.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.


MARTINEZ: If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there are free trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact them by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.