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Boy Scouts, Church Pay into Settlement Fund for Abuse Victims


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Church of Jesus Christ will pay $250M into fund for Boy Scout sexual abuse claims

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The Boy Scouts of America will receive more than $1 billion from its primary insurer and The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints in a tentative agreement to resolve sexual abuse claims of thousands of men who say they were molested decades ago by scoutmasters and others.

Under the agreement, insurance company The Hartford will pay $787 million into a fund to be established for the men, the company said in a news release Tuesday. In exchange for the payment, the Boy Scouts and its local councils will fully release The Hartford from any obligation under policies the insurance company issued to them.

Under a separate settlement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has agreed to pay $250 million into the fund for abuse claimants. The church, based in Salt Lake City, was the largest single sponsor of Boy Scout troops before ending its longtime partnership with the organization at the beginning of last year.

“This has been a prolonged 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 experienced abuse,” church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.

Hmm.  I'm curious as to how the Church - as a sponsoring institution - would be liable for damages in the same way the BSA would be. 

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“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns abuse of any kind. We express our love and concern for those who have experienced abuse through Scouting or any other circumstance.”

The proposed settlements are part of an ongoing effort by the Boy Scouts, which declared bankruptcy in February 2020, to forge a reorganization plan that must win approval by a majority of abuse victims and the court. Attorneys are still trying to negotiate a settlement with the Boy Scouts’ other major insurer, Century Indemnity, according to The Associated Press.

The agreement-in-principle with The Harford was reached in connection with Boy Scouts’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will become a final settlement under certain conditions, including execution of a definitive settlement agreement, confirmation of the Scouts’ global resolution plan, receipt of executed releases from the local councils, and approval from the bankruptcy court as part of the Scouts’ overall reorganization plan.

I'm curious if the BK court will approve this plan.

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An official victims committee appointed by the U.S. bankruptcy trustee opposes the settlement as do law firms separately representing hundreds of men who have filed sexual abuse claims. Representatives of the official victims committee described the proposed settlements as “grossly unfair,” the AP reported.

”The only winners in this latest proposal are the Boy Scouts, their local councils, the Mormon Church, and the Hartford insurance company,” Michael Pfau, an attorney whose firm represents more than 1,000 abuse claimants in the bankruptcy, said in a prepared statement.

“The Boy Scouts are offering abuse survivors a fraction of what their cases are worth and the assets available to pay them,” Pfau added. “The Mormon church is reported to have roughly $100 billion in assets, but it is offering a paltry $250 million to compensate the thousands of abuse survivors who were abused in Mormon Boy Scout troops by Mormon Scout leaders.”

I am curious as to how many claims have been filed by "Mormon Boy Scout troops."  I think this is the first time I have heard allegations that there are "thousands" of such cases.

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The new agreement with The Hartford was negotiated after the bankruptcy judge last month rejected two key provisions of an $850 million deal that the Boy Scouts had reached with attorneys representing a majority of abuse claimants, according to the AP.

Judge Laura Selber Silverstein denied the Boy Scouts’ request as part of that deal for permission to withdraw from a previous $650 million settlement it had reached with The Hartford. The Boy Scouts sought to withdraw from that April agreement after attorneys for abuse claimants repeatedly insisted that their clients would never vote for a reorganization plan that included it.

Silverstein also rejected a proposal for the Boy Scouts to pay millions of dollars in legal fees and expenses of attorneys hired by a coalition of law firms that represent tens of thousands of abuse claimants. The judge noted that any such payment would come out of the pockets of abuse claimants themselves, the AP reported.

It seems like mass tort litigation often results in the lawyers making a ton of money.  The actual victims . . . not so much.

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The new settlement with The Hartford was the product of negotiations that included attorneys representing an ad hoc group called the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice. Law firms affiliated with the group represent more than 60,000 sex abuse claimants.

”These are very significant developments,” said Ken Rothweiler, whose law firm is affiliated with the coalition and represents roughly 16,800 abuse claimants.

The proposed settlements, coupled with the $850 million contribution from the Boy Scouts and local councils, would bring the fund for abuse claimants to almost $1.9 billion, according to the AP. If the plan is approved, it would represent one of the largest sex-abuse settlements in U.S. history.

What a terrible thing that has happened here.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

What a terrible thing that has happened here.  

From your experience, how does one prove abuse in a case like this?

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

It seems like mass tort litigation often results in the lawyers making a ton of money.  The actual victims . . . not so much.

I have observed this, too. Can there be any way to reform this?

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3 hours ago, smac97 said:

... I'm curious if the BK court will approve this plan. ...

"BK" = Bankruptcy, not Burger King, for anyone who's wondering. ;) :D 

And yes, I know that sexual abuse of minors and attendant litigation are no laughing matters, in case anyone's wondering about that, is inclined to take umbrage, et cetera.  But if the three choices are (1) laugh, (2) scream, or (3) cry ...

Dang, now I'm hungry!  :P;) 

Edited by Kenngo1969
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3 hours ago, smac97 said:

Church of Jesus Christ will pay $250M into fund for Boy Scout sexual abuse claims

Hmm.  I'm curious as to how the Church - as a sponsoring institution - would be liable for damages in the same way the BSA would be. 

I don't think they would be liable in the same way.
But I think given the way in which scouting was used in the Church there could be danger of liability.  Perhaps this is simply to help offset potential future claims.

When I attended scouting the meetings were at the chapel, the scout leaders were members of the ward, the activities ran through the ward, every aspect of my scouting experience was being run and administered under Church oversight.
If anything had happened I could see the Church being held as liable as the scouting organization.

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17 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Perhaps this is simply to help offset potential future claims.

That's my area of interest with this donation. We know the church has been sued directly over it (https://apnews.com/article/sexual-abuse-by-clergy-lawsuits-arizona-sexual-abuse-90d2cff3ef5668cfc28f3a3269c09b1c), but I guess it depends what's in the agreement. Does it treat the church the same as the insurance company (as in money paid into fund = liability removed)?

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3 hours ago, bluebell said:

I read this a couple of days ago and applaud the church for doing it. Sometimes you have to worry less about fault and more about helping people who have been hurt under your watch. 

I suppose so. But I tend to not think of it being under the watch of the church.  It was under the watch of the individual leaders who actually committed the crimes. They are the ones who should pay for it.  How could the church know certain people were going to do such things to the scouts? 

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2 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I suppose so. But I tend to not think of it being under the watch of the church.  It was under the watch of the individual leaders who actually committed the crimes. They are the ones who should pay for it.  How could the church know certain people were going to do such things to the scouts? 

Yes they should.  But they were made 'watchman' by the church, so I could see why the church might feel some responsibility for that.

If I got my kids a babysitter who abused them, I would still feel a level of responsibility for that, even if there was no way for me to know they were going to do such a thing.

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7 hours ago, smac97 said:

Hmm.  I'm curious as to how the Church - as a sponsoring institution - would be liable for damages in the same way the BSA would be. 

Over the past year or so I have occasionally seen grumbling, at the Scouter.com forum, to the effect that (allegedly) there were those in BSA leadership who wanted to get much more aggressive much earlier on (like, 1970s) about implementing youth protection procedures and teaching Scouts to recognize sexual abuse; and supposedly the LDS Church was one of the major entities saying "no, the BSA should not be talking to its boys about sex at all".  I have no idea whether this is true or not, but there seems to be some feeling on the part of some BSA long-timers to the effect that the Church set the BSA up for failure and has gotten off much more lightly than it should, financially speaking.  

Edited by mgy401
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9 hours ago, Bernard Gui said:

I have observed this, too. Can there be any way to reform this?

I doubt it. These kinds of litigation are expensive to pursue. Someone has to pay the lawyers to do the work or there won’t be any such litigation. Most proposals I have heard to correct it involve capping the amount the lawyers can get but if this cuts too far into the lawyers making their money then again, no one will take the cases.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

I doubt it. These kinds of litigation are expensive to pursue. Someone has to pay the lawyers to do the work or there won’t be any such litigation. Most proposals I have heard to correct it involve capping the amount the lawyers can get but if this cuts too far into the lawyers making their money then again, no one will take the cases.

That's the economic incentive part of the matter. And then there's the fact that a large number of legislators are lawyers, and they might feel a certain disinclination to cap their own salaries.

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15 hours ago, smac97 said:

Church of Jesus Christ will pay $250M into fund for Boy Scout sexual abuse claims

Hmm.  I'm curious as to how the Church - as a sponsoring institution - would be liable for damages in the same way the BSA would be. ...............................

I am curious as to how many claims have been filed by "Mormon Boy Scout troops."  I think this is the first time I have heard allegations that there are "thousands" of such cases.......................

There are plenty of cases, not all of them equally actionable in court.  Many have long since been settled by the LDS Church, and I have a long list of such sex abuse suits.  The problem in most cases was that the Church did not exercise due diligence to prevent such cases.  Simply trusting someone because he is presumably such a good guy turned out to be a disastrous policy.  Worse were the cases in which pedophiles were not tracked into future venues and were able to continue their predation -- same as in the Roman Catholic Church.

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8 hours ago, mgy401 said:

Over the past year or so I have occasionally seen grumbling, at the Scouter.com forum, to the effect that (allegedly) there were those in BSA leadership who wanted to get much more aggressive much earlier on (like, 1970s) about implementing youth protection procedures and teaching Scouts to recognize sexual abuse; and supposedly the LDS Church was one of the major entities saying "no, the BSA should not be talking to its boys about sex at all".  I have no idea whether this is true or not, but there seems to be some feeling on the part of some BSA long-timers to the effect that the Church set the BSA up for failure and has gotten off much more lightly than it should, financially speaking.  

Sounds like rank speculation, in the absence of actual statements and documentation.  The notion that the LDS "Church set the BSA up for failure" is a grave charge indeed.  It needs to be backed up by solid evidence.

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4 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

There are plenty of cases, not all of them equally actionable in court.  Many have long since been settled by the LDS Church, and I have a long list of such sex abuse suits.  The problem in most cases was that the Church did not exercise due diligence to prevent such cases.  Simply trusting someone because he is presumably such a good guy turned out to be a disastrous policy.  Worse were the cases in which pedophiles were not tracked into future venues and were able to continue their predation -- same as in the Roman Catholic Church.

How is the Church supposed to do this? They can't read a person's mind. Background checks (not normally done 50 years ago) would not help with most of them because they might not have had any known history of doing it. 

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4 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Sounds like rank speculation, in the absence of actual statements and documentation.  The notion that the LDS "Church set the BSA up for failure" is a grave charge indeed.  It needs to be backed up by solid evidence.

I imagine there’s some jealousy involved too.  While BSA was paying its local executives bloated compensation packages worth seven figures and otherwise wheeling, dealing, running up debt while looting the boys it purported to serve by selling them ridiculously overpriced merchandise and literature and shaking down LDS congregations through “Friends of Scouting” quotas, we built up our storied “rainy day fund” which—coincidentally or not—would now handily pay off their entire claims balance of roughly $100 billion.  

Between the claimants and the BSA themselves, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would be trying to get their hands in our pockets sooner or later; and as far as the former goes—it’s The Little Red Hen writ large, and I suspect that if the BSA leadership had been fundamentally decent and honest people the Church never would have seen a need to leave.

Edited by mgy401
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10 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think the "two teacher rule," stringently followed, would have had significant benefits.  Two or more leaders with the youth at all times.

When I was growing up in Utah County, the leaders were fairly lackadaisical in keeping track of each other.  The tendency Robert notes above ("Simply trusting someone because he is presumably such a good guy turned out to be a disastrous policy") was easy to fall into because most of those someones were good guys.  But that laxity created opportunity for predators.

I currently teach the Valiants in my ward.  I team-teach with a young man who is in college and also works inconsistent hours in the local hospital, so he is often not available.  However, the Bishop and Primary President have created a "Bright Line Rule" sort of expectation as to team teaching, such that there is no circumstance where it is acceptable for a teacher to be alone with kids.  My wife is in the YW, so she's never available.  Most of the men in our ward know this, and so I have always felt comfortable with asking someone to come teach with me as a last-minute request.  

Thanks,

-Smac

I get all this I just think blaming an entire volunteer organization for the faults of a few is wrong. Especially something that happened "decades ago".  The entire blame should go on the individual. 

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20 hours ago, smac97 said:

Church of Jesus Christ will pay $250M into fund for Boy Scout sexual abuse claims

Hmm.  I'm curious as to how the Church - as a sponsoring institution - would be liable for damages in the same way the BSA would be. 

I'm curious if the BK court will approve this plan.

I am curious as to how many claims have been filed by "Mormon Boy Scout troops."  I think this is the first time I have heard allegations that there are "thousands" of such cases.

It seems like mass tort litigation often results in the lawyers making a ton of money.  The actual victims . . . not so much.

What a terrible thing that has happened here.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Terrible as in ???

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4 minutes ago, Tacenda said:
Quote

What a terrible thing that has happened here.  

Terrible as in ???

I was referring to the abuse victims.  I thought that would be understood. 

Thanks,

-Smac

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26 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I was referring to the abuse victims.  I thought that would be understood. 

Thanks,

-Smac

Thanks Smac, I was hoping that was what you meant and not terrible that the church paid those monies. ETA: I read your comment over again, and see that I got lazy by skimming it. And for sure that was what you meant, sorry.

 

Edited by Tacenda
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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

How is the Church supposed to do this? They can't read a person's mind. Background checks (not normally done 50 years ago) would not help with most of them because they might not have had any known history of doing it. 

Hindsight is 20/20, so LDS and BSA now have strong two-deep policies (two adults with any lone kid).  In the past, the LDS Church did not track known offenders, foolishly thinking that confession and repentance were enough.  Instead of reporting sexual abuse to the police, some thought that a call to SLC or dealing with it in house would be adequate.  Once again, the height of foolishness.  Several millions in tithing later it became apparent that such policies just did not work.  A learning curve gets even steeper with denial of the problem.  Repentance and forgiveness are fine, as long as the predator goes to prison and is excommunicated.

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46 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Thanks Smac, I was hoping that was what you meant and not terrible that the church paid those monies.

I've said stuff like this quite a few times on this board (emphasis added) :

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I am not discounting all the litigation filed against the Church.  Sometimes the Church and/or its agents/representatives errs legally.  When and if that happens, and can be established through evidence and argument, the Church needs to take its legal lumps like anyone else.  So I don't begrudge anyone who has a legitimate (or at least colorable) grievance against the Church and avails himself to filing a lawsuit.

That said, there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits filed against the Church.  Those filed by Cook and Gaddy come immediately to mind.  And these are just the recent ones.  

I think the Church should be held to the same behavioral / ethical / legal standards as any other similarly-situated organization.  

46 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

ETA: I read your comment over again, and see that I got lazy by skimming it. And for sure that was what you meant, sorry.

No worries.

Thanks,

-Smac

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19 hours ago, bluebell said:

Yes they should.  But they were made 'watchman' by the church, so I could see why the church might feel some responsibility for that.

If I got my kids a babysitter who abused them, I would still feel a level of responsibility for that, even if there was no way for me to know they were going to do such a thing.

I’m not persuaded this analogy conveys what you want it to. You might “feel a level of responsibility,” but that all by itself would not warrant such an assumption. 

Where does it end? Bad actors are a part of life, yet society functions largely and unavoidably on trust. Is a parent necessarily responsible for unforeseeable wrongs that might befall his child at school, such as bullying by students, faculty or administrators? 
 

I’m not opposed to the Church out of a sense of benevolence paying into the fund, but without more information, I could not with certainty conclude this amounts to an admission of culpability on the part of the Church. 
 

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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My take is that the church could very well be liable for abuse by the leaders it chose and whether or not it appropriately trained and supervised such leaders.  And it has significantly more ethical if not legal obligation because a) these leaders didn't choose to be Scout leaders usually, having been called to do it; and b) the calling gives them an aura of affirmation of goodness, that potentially makes a youth less likely to question inappropriate behavior and/or be heard when they report stuff.

But I also know that the trolling for victims done by the law firms prosecuting this included my dh who attended a non-lds scout troop for 1 year in the 1960's, and it basically said you don't have to prove it, you just have to send us a response to say you want to be part of the  group and get compensation for your claim.  

Many of the victim groups and/or attys have specifically targeted abuse done in lds troops and is often been about sticking it to the LDS church as opposed to helping/compensating any victims.    Part of that is because of the church's potentially deep pockets, which the judge shut down pretty solidly when it said that the settlement wouldn't include atty fees, which would have to come from victims compensation, because there is no statutory right to atty fees for the claims.

When I've read about this I have wondered if the church or anyone else has determined how many perps there were in lds troops compared to other sponsors.   The amount the church ante'd up seems to reflect that church sponsored troop were relatively free of abuse, but I'd sure like to know the facts if they've been determined.

Edited by rpn
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