Boy Scouts of America Sexual Abuse: Who’s Affected?

Boy scout in uniform

Were you or someone you love sexually abused by a leader in the Boy Scouts of America?

Organizations across the country are coming under fire for failing to protect children from sexual abuse over the decades. The most prominent example of this is the Catholic church sex abuse scandal given its intensive coverage in the news these last few years, but many youth organizations are being named as well, including the Boy Scouts of America.

More and more survivors of childhood sexual abuse are pursuing litigation against the organizations that allowed the abuse to take place, or helped cover up the abuse.



The Boy Scouts of America is one of the many organizations that is now facing a slew of litigation over alleged child abuse. The survivors, now adults, claim that leaders within the Boy Scouts organization abused them when they were children and that the organization failed to protect them—and in some cases, may have even covered up the abuse.

Some states are introducing laws that allow survivors of sex abuse to file claims that were previously barred by statutes of limitations.

If you or someone you love suffered from sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America, you may qualify to join this Boy Scout sexual abuse class action lawsuit investigation.

See if you qualify by filling out the free form on this page

Tents at boy scout camp

What Are Boy Scouts?

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest organizations of the Scout movement in the world, and the largest by far in the United States, which offers informal educational opportunities for young people with a focus on practical outdoor skills, as well as leadership and interpersonal skills. One of the iconic aspects of scouting is the collection of merit badges, which Scouts can achieve upon completing certain requirements. Merit badges include camping, first aid, personal management, communication, emergency preparedness, and many more.



The BSA program has a number of age categories where children can advance through the organization, starting from Cub Scouting (kindergarten through 5th grade), then moving up to the Scouts BSA (6th through 12th grade). Scouts can also participate in Venturing and Sea Scouting programs from ages 14 through 20. The highest rank for a Scout is Eagle Scout.

How Many Boy Scouts Are There?

According to the organization’s website, there are currently about 2.2 million youth members between 5 and 21, as well as about 800,000 adult volunteers. In the century since its inception, more than 130 million young people have participated in its programs, and more than 35 million adults have volunteered with the organization.

Who Started The Boy Scouts of America?

Perhaps unexpectedly, the person who started the Boy Scouts in the United States was actually a British baron, Robert Baden-Powell. Baden-Powell was a colonel in the British Army who fought in the Second Boer War, back in 1899. During the war, Baden-Powell brought on a group of 12- to 15-year-olds – who wore a khaki uniform and wide-brimmed hats – to bring messages back and forth and act as scouts to help Baden-Powell’s adult soldiers.

In 1908, a few years after the war had ended, Baden-Powell published an outdoor skills book called Scouting for Boys, after which Boy Scout troops began appearing in the U.K. The Boy Scout of America was subsequently formed in 1910.

Boy Scouts of America Sexual Abuse

Unfortunately, despite its long history, this beloved American institution has been accused by hundreds of former Scouts of failing to protect them while they were a part of the organization.



A number of lawsuits have already been filed by hundreds of former Scouts. Claims made by survivors against their abusers within the organization include molestation from fondling to rape.

While some of the Scout leaders accused by their victims have since gone to trial or were punished at an administrative level, and about two dozen of the accused were kicked out of Scouting entirely due to abuse, many more of the accused remain unpunished.

Many of the people accused in this litigation are not only leaders within the Boy Scouts of America, like troop leaders or assistant troop leaders, but they are also leaders in their communities as well. Police officers, members of the military, teachers, doctors, a child psychologist, and a mayor have been some of the other key community leaders accused of sexual abuse. Leadership is, after all, one of the core aspects of Scouting.

What are the Boy Scouts Perversion Files?

In 2012, an internal Boy Scouts of America database was discovered that included information on “ineligible volunteers”, nicknamed the “perversion files”—including more than 7,800 sex offenders and 12,254 victims between 1944 and 2016.

Because of the nature of the organization itself, the alleged abusers reportedly had unusual access to young Scouts: camping trips, church halls, meetings, retreats, the adult’s homes, and even the child’s homes. Parents who might not otherwise have allowed their children to be alone with an adult man outside of the family trusted in the Boy Scouts of America and trusted that their child would be safe.

Boy Scouts Sexual Abuse Statistics

Sexual abuse has existed within the Boy Scouts for decades, with files dating all the way back to 1944. Some other statistics surrounding Boy Scouts sexual abuse include:

  • 7,819 sex offenders and 12,254 victims were included in BSA’s “ineligible volunteer” files between 1944 and 2016
  • The BSA is currently facing around 300 lawsuits filed by former Scouts over childhood sex abuse
  • More than 130 million youth have participated in the BSA
  • More than 35 million adults have volunteered with the organization
  • Many plaintiffs are now in their 50s and 60s, but allegations have come from plaintiffs as old as 88 and as young as 14
  • The BSA is the 18th largest nonprofit in the U.S. with $780 million annual revenue
  • Estimates place the number of BSA abuse survivors at between 40,000 to 50,000, as a conservative guess

boy scouts of America sexual abuse

Boy Scouts Youth Protection Strategies

The Boy Scouts organization touts its youth protection strategies for its leaders, which it employs primarily at a local level alongside state requirements for working with youth. The BSA requires mandatory criminal background checks for leaders, youth protection training, mandatory reporting, two-deep leadership, and no one-on-one contact between adults and youth.

What is Youth Protection Training?

Essentially, Youth Protection training is a program developed by the Boy Scouts of America meant for all volunteers and staff who will be working with kids. In the last few years, the BSA has revamped its Youth Protection training program. The training is meant to cover “best practices for preventing, identifying and dealing with abuse.”

This training is required for all registered adults and volunteers, as well as any adult attending a BSA activity 72 hours or longer. The training is an online program that takes approximately 60-75 minutes.

Has The Boy Scouts of America Covered Up Sexual Abuse Incidents?

The Boy Scouts of America’s official position today is that it believes and supports survivors of abuse. “We care deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a written statement in response to the filing of a major sex abuse lawsuit in 2019, according to CNN. “We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.”

Despite this show of support, many have claimed that the organization knew about abuse within its ranks throughout the years. Instead of bringing the abuse forward, holding abusers accountable, and protecting children, the BSA instead chose to cover up the abuse. The organization has even admitted to covering up this abuse, after long maintaining that there was no cover-up.

“I have reviewed information that now makes it clear to me that decades ago BSA did, in at least some instances, allow individuals to return to Scouting even after credible accusations of sexual abuse,” wrote BSA Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh in a letter to Congress.

One alleged victim who filed an August 2019 lawsuit against the Boy Scouts told The Washington Post that the BSA allowed his abuser to keep working with children, even though he claims that the organization knew of the abuse—his name was included in the ineligible volunteer files.

“It’s bad enough what one individual human being does, that’s between him and God,” the survivor referred to just by the name “David,” told the Post. “What an organization does to thousands of people, that’s between society and those people.”

David was spurred on by finding his abuser’s name in the BSA’s ineligible volunteer files, prompting him to file litigation. “I felt honestly more incensed by their concealment than my abuse when I was a child.”

Read more: Has Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Been Ignored For Decades?

What Boy Scouts Lawsuits Have Been Filed?

Part of the reason child sex abuse litigation has taken off in the last few years is that some states are temporarily lifting the statute of limitations, meaning that cases can now be filed regardless of how long ago the abuse took place. One impact of this change can be seen through the implementation of the New York Child Victims Act, which sparked hundreds of lawsuits the very first day it took effect.

In August 2019, a major class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearly 800 former Scouts. According to the lawsuit, the organization did not adequately vet its volunteers. Moreover, the BSA actively hid the extent of the sexual abuse scandal within its ranks. Even when abusers were punished, they were more often quietly removed from the organization than they were handed over to the police.

“It is apparent that the Boy Scout Defendants continue to hide the true nature of their cover-up and the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organizations because the vast majority of new victims coming forward involve claims of abuse at the hands of pedophiles who are not yet identified by the Boy Scouts of America,” reads the complaint, according to USA Today.

A federal lawsuit was filed against the BSA at the end of 2019, alleging a victim was raped and abused multiple times by a Cub Scout leader and includes similar claims from a dozen other plaintiffs as well. The lawsuit alleges that the Boy Scouts failed to protect its members from this abuse.

Read more: Boy Scout Abuse Cases: 12K and Growing

Will the Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Affect Sexual Abuse Settlements?

In the wake of the recent wave of abuse allegations, the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy filing was a response to an inundation of sexual abuse lawsuits. Unfortunately, this filing does mean that survivors have a new deadline for making their claims, making it somewhat of a race against the clock. The organization reportedly proposed an 80-day window for survivors to submit their claims.

In an open letter signed by Jim Turley, the BSA National Chair, the Boy Scouts reads in part: “[T]he national organization of the Boy Scouts of America has initiated a voluntary financial restructuring to ensure we can equitably compensate all victims of past abuse in our programs, through a proposed Victim’s Compensation Trust. I encourage you, and all victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this Trust.”

Read more: Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Negotiations Establish Victim Filing Deadline

What Damages Can You Claim?

There are a number of damages that victims can claim from child sexual abuse, with the effects ranging from physical to emotional and mental. Survivors may suffer from chronic pain, reproductive health complications, hampered sexual function, intimacy dysfunction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. The effects of child sex abuse can last for an entire lifetime—and survivors deserve not only compensation but also to have their pain acknowledged.

Filing a Boy Scout of America Lawsuit

If you were abused through the Boy Scouts of America organization, you may be able to file a Boy Scout class action lawsuit and pursue compensation. Of course, filing a lawsuit cannot take away the pain and suffering caused by this abuse, but it can at least help to alleviate the financial burden incurred by medical expenses, lost wages, and more.

Judgments and settlement claims through litigation against the Boy Scouts have been, in some cases, very high. According to AP News, a 2010 sexual abuse case in Portland, Oregon, led to a judgment of nearly $20 million against the organization.

Filing a lawsuit can be a daunting prospect, especially while dealing with a traumatic event like child abuse, so Top Class Actions has laid the groundwork for you by connecting you with an experienced attorney. Consulting an attorney can help you determine if you have a claim, navigate the complexities of litigation, and maximize your potential compensation.

Join a Free Boy Scouts of America Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Investigation

If you or someone you love were sexually abused as a child by a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, you may be able to join this free Boy Scouts class action lawsuit investigation.

Fill out the form on this page to see if you qualify.

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Join a Free Boy Scouts of America Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit Investigation

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